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MICHAEL GUTHRIE BAND (Buy CDs by this artist)
Direct Hits (Ear) 1981
Banned in America EP (Ear) 1982

Along with brother Herb on drums and bassist Ritchie McNally, singing guitarist/songwriter Michael Guthrie of Charlottesville, Virginia, works up a mighty sweat playing tuneful rockers on these two self-released records. A veteran (but unheralded) trio — which subsequently took the truth-in-advertising name Guitars and Drums — with scads of talent, the basic commodity here is high-octane power pop. Not the wimpy Angloid variety, but full-blooded American rock'n'roll with memorable melodies and catchy choruses.

Direct Hits contains a bunch of great numbers delivered with unpretentious but effective production. Banned in America — seven more originals — is more ambitious if not quite as enthralling. Echoes of early Cheap Trick are evident, and some songs shift away from pop toward more direct rock'n'roll; still, an impressive outing from a band deserving of the fame and fortune confidently hoped for in the leadoff track, "Big Time."

[Ira Robbins]