The first “real” Real Kids album since 1977? I always considered Norton Records’ No Place Fast a Real Kids album, but I guess it’s not, as it consists of Real Kids and Taxi Boys recordings. Some of the songs on Shake… have been floating around since Real Kids founder John Felice was planning the second album way back in the late ‘70s. Even before I heard this record was coming out, I would often wonder what happened to the album the Real Kids was working on in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. So, what to say about Shake…? It doesn’t suck! But is that really something to say, when the first thought that came to my mind was “this doesn’t suck?” Really, it’s reductive and oafish of me to write that, but I did think those thoughts. The recordings are good and warm, a much better mix than on the Down to You EP from 1999 (something about the drums on those recordings will always bother me). John Felice’s voice has held up pretty well. He was never a good “singer,” but that’s not the point. It’s just that sometimes I feel he’s reaching for notes he can’t hit. What Felice really is is a good songwriter: the man can write a hook, he’s got a signature guitar sound that any Real Kids fan can pick up on immediately, and he does the heart-on-sleeves thing but doesn’t make it feel cheesy. There’s an updated version of “Common at Noon,” slowed down and with extra instruments that improves on the original. The back cover photo should really have been the front cover.
–Sal Lucci (Ugly Pop)