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After several years of sporadic EPs and singles, New York’s cavalier Compulsions have finally released their first full-length album, modestly entitled Beat the Devil. Leader Rob Carlyle‘s long-simmering brainchild boasts all the sex, sin and sleaze we’d expect from the purveyors of the song “Big Fat Sexy Mama,” but don’t get the wrong idea – this ain’t some noxious hair-metal revival act obsessed with strippers and bad street drugs. Deftly balancing the bits of the Heartbreakers, Guns ‘N Roses and the Rolling Stones he most loves, Carlyle filters boozy rock riffs and sneering attitude through a lens of smart songcraft and sly wit. The band (which includes current Guns Richard Fortus and Frank Ferrer and Hanoi Rocks/*New York Dolls*/*Michael Monroe* bassman Sami Yaffa) may strut through the funkybutt “She’s So Fuckin’ Sexy” with devil-may-care aplomb, but its members don’t expect groupies to throw themselves at their feet after the final chord. Occasionally Carlyle’s sense of humor gets the best of his tunesmithery, as on the brief but ridiculous “Eat My Dust.” But hipswinging groovers “Ya Never Got Me Down” and “I Was Right, You Were Wrong,” blunt rockers “I Just Wanna Play Guitar” and “Dirty Woman Blues,” the cranky country blues “Shut Yer Hole” (guest-starring famed picker Hubert Sumlin in one of his last recorded appearances) and the heart-on-sleeve ballad “Yer Too Good For Me” reveal both a high level of craftsmanship and a back-alley sensibility sorely lacking in most modern rock & roll. You won’t find any sensitive introspection or thoughtful cultural commentary on Beat the Devil – just classically dirty rock & roll with a wink, a smile and a burned-out amplifier.
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