• E*I*E*I*O
  • The Land of Opportunity (Frontier) 1986 
  • That Love Thang (Frontier) 1988 

Wisconsin’s E*I*E*I*O is an “American Music” band in the tradition of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Blasters. Like those two bands, their sound is an amalgam of rock’n’roll, rockabilly, country, blues and folk. They’ve also got a strong singer with an unmistakably individual voice in Steve Summers, two good songwriters (Summers and bassist Richard Szeluga) and a pair of shit-hot guitarists (one of whom had been in Off Broadway) and harmony vocalists who can sing like Byrds.

The uniformly excellent material on Land of Opportunity (co-produced by Steve Berlin) ranges from flat-out ravers (“Tear It Down,” “Go West Young Man,” “The Middle of November”) to songs about the ups and downs of the road (“Me and Jesus Christ,” “White Lines, Blue Skies, Black Top”), country life (“Blue Mountaintop”) and, of course, love (“This Time,” “Hello Heartache,” “Get Back to Arkansas,” “Every Word True”). The music’s emotional intensity and physical excitement make this an essential record. (The cassette adds “Stars Are Out and the Moon Is High” and “No Father in the Family.”)

With guitarist Mike Hoffman gone off to form Semi-Twang (and later the Carnival Strippers), the group uses That Love Thang to expand its sound further, adding a propulsive R&B-type horn section (on the wonderful “Hey, Cecelie” and the title track) and strings (for the LP’s ambitious closer “Brother Michael”). While some of the songs here are a bit less involving than on Land of Opportunity, this is another fine record. (The cassette and CD append “You Can’t Stay Here.”)

[Dave Schulps]