I'm not sure what's going on. Either New York slide-trumpet player and bandleader Steve Bernstein is getting better, or I'm coming around (maybe both). Bernstein, who with his band Sex Mob has been making reasonably amusing and background-filling albums for the better part of a decade, never really clicked with me. His music seemed so insubstantial, so resolutely finger-poppin' hey-daddy ironically-detached aren't-we-cool hipsterish, that I never gave it much of a chance.
In retrospect, I think that's a shame. Because behind the wide-lapel cheapo porno shtick he's peddled is a bandleader whose guiding purpose in life is to make music for people to have a good time by.
That skill of making good-time music doesn't seem to get a whole lot of respect. All the music critics swoon over Brian Wilson's brain-fractured experimentation, and ignore the sweet and fun stuff. They flip out over the far-out stylings on Smile, but what about "Surf City?" "Surf City" is a perfect song, a summer song, a song about good times and scantily clad ladies cavorting on a white sand beach. No respect for "Surf City."
All the nerds (all the world!) swoon over Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for some silly-ass reason, and while they acknowledge that the early stuff sure is some crack songwriting, the consensus seems to be that drugs and four hundred hours of studio time somehow trump, you know, attention to extraneous cruft like melody and lyrics. A song like "A Day in the Life" demands to be appreciated, like it was hanging in some museum, but there ain't a damn song in the world that sums up the innocence of young love more than "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
And, okay, yes, over the years I have spent a lot of time talking up music that's more intellectually rewarding than aesthetically pleasing, I won't deny it. How could I deny it? Y'all got Google. And yes, I haven't always cared for Sex Mob. I always thought they were more gimmicky and clever than actually good. And I stand by that assessment.