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MICHAEL GUTHRIE BAND (Buy CDs by this artist)
Direct Hits (Ear) 1981
MICHAEL GUTHRIE
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]