Average White Band “Soul Searching”

It’s hard to figure out why I like this record so much, because for one thing, it’s AWB, after all, a band I never liked. But this turned out to be my summer record this year—that happens sometimes—a single record becomes the soundtrack for an entire season. It’s usually summer, when you’re lazier, slower moving, and the right thing just settles into your heat-compromised brain. My notes on this record are as follows, starting with July 8, 2008: “Overture” is my favorite. It’s not bad. Good. Too hot to really think soundtrack. Lot’s of band-in-the-studio pics. Good basketball music. I’m obsessed with it. Best: “Overture,” “I’m the One” (15-60-75), “Sunny Days”—great soul song. (End of notes.)

I’m not totally convinced that they sound much like 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band) but that one song always makes me think of them. The odd thing about liking this record so much is I am well aware of being at aesthetic odds with a lot of musical choices they make: in chord changes and progressions, in instrumentation, and in production. I like some songs way more than others. And still, I really like the record as a whole. It works really well as a record, from beginning to end. It goes from nostalgic to corny to boring to exciting and emotional, but it all works together.

“A Love of Your Own” is a really nice song. “Goin’ Home” has some really excellent repetition—to the extent that I had to check, the first couple of times I heard it, to see if the record was skipping. “I’m the One” and “Sunny Days” are my favorites. The song “Soul Searching” sounds like the title song for a 70s TV show about three guys (a hot headed handsome Italian-American, a freckly, goofy Irish-American with a huge afro, and a calm, articulate African-American) who travel the California coast in a flower-power dune buggy searching for the perfect wave, but finding trouble everywhere they go. They end up solving a lot of people’s life crisis’s, while teaching them not to be racist, to be open-minded and spiritual, and to generally chill out and laugh at things while still being serious inside. They break a few ladies’ hearts, as well.

I can only think that I must have heard this record while I was in high school. After all there was an intramural basketball team called AWB (for “Average White Basketball Team”). (It pains me to admit that I was on a team called “Utopia.”) All I knew was that it was baffling to me that a band would call themselves “average” and/or “white”—though they played “black” music. I was aware of their logo, scripty lettering with the W depicting a woman’s (or shapely guy’s) ass. Little did I know they were from Scotland! I was making the transition between prog rock and punk rock, and I had no time for the subtle charms of this record. But I really think I must have heard it. I think I must have been in somebody’s basement, a party going on, 1976, and I’m steadily drinking a 12 pack of Stroh’s. In spite of not being able to commandeer the sound system with Elvis Costello, and hating the smooth, commercial sounding crap that was on, there was something about the music, I guess—and maybe liking a girl that was there, and the magical process of intoxication—that remains.

1 Response to “Average White Band “Soul Searching””

  1. December 14, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I took a break in the middle of “Beckola” (not the album Beck-Ola, which I don’t have, but my five record Jeff Beck marathon to try to stop the bleeding from my ears, and I put on a CASSETTE tape of THIS record, (AWB “Soul Searching”) which I made while I was listening to it excessively. I know it’s 2009, and I now work with people, in my day job, who HAVE NEVER LAID EYES ON a cassette tape! But I still use them, though they’re getting harder to find. Anyway, this record sounded SO GOOD I couldn’t believe it– it was like it sat around and further arranged its molecular structure or something. I really think that some day they will discover that cassette tapes do something magical to music, kind of what people now do with PROTOOLS. But better. Much better. It’s like you put some music on a cassette, then let it sit for awhile, and it’s like putting a quart of apple cider aside for a few days. When you finally return to it, it’s magically turned into fucking champagne! Anyway, this record sounds better than ever to me, I can’t explain it. Maybe it was playing in the next room during my tormented childhood in Kokomo, who knows.

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November 2008

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