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UNCLE JOE'S BIG OL' DRIVER (Buy CDs by this artist)
Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver (Headhunter/Cargo) 1994
Chick Rock (Headhunter/Cargo) 1995

Reveling in the sort of post-punk disassembly of classic rock first attempted in mid-'80s Minnesota, Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver dug into big'n'beefy sprawling riffwork with gusto and a knack for songs that stick on its all-fun first album. Nodding enthusiastically toward the full-frontal melodic rock of the Replacements and Soul Asylum (as well as the Lyres in "Divine"), the San Diego quartet made fine use of crunching rhythm guitars and spirited frenzy in "Gone Sour," "Sweet Things Come in Small Packages" and the calamitous garage-powered "Jersey." (The band's stylistic inclination isn't too surprising, since Dave Jass, one of its two singer/guitarists, grew up in Minneapolis and did a stint with a nascent incarnation of Soul Asylum. Andrew McKeag is from Portland, but that doesn't make them sound like Poison Idea. So much for theories.)

After relocating to Seattle and landing another in a long series of drummers, UJBOD took a more varied approach on Chick Rock. (Dick Rock if you like, girls.) Produced by the illustrious Kurt Bloch, UJBOD hit its stride with bar-fogged, meat'n'potatoes rock. "Head First," "Good Morning Headache" and "Thunderbolt Grease Slapper" all follow happily in the debut's footsteps, but "One Night Stand" makes a junior Dinosaur Jr bid and "Johnny the Man" hits a white-line-fever boogie groove, while the skeletal "AM" strikes a quiet, reflective tone that will sound familiar to fans of Paul Westerberg's maudlin side. The band broke up in the fall of '95.

[Vickie Gilmer]