Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Big Head Todd and the Monsters is not a remake of a scary horror film. They are, however, a scary great rock group punctuated with one "Guitar God" in the name of Todd Park Mohr. Along with his two mates, Brian Nevin (on drums and vocals), and Rob Squires (on bass and vocals), the group has evolved musically and professionally to even higher ground since they first started playing music together at Colorado�s Columbine High School where they chose their band name in homage to blues hero Eddie "Clean Head" Vinson. Having attained platinum sales status for Sister Sweetly along with two more (close to gold releases) Stratagem and Beautiful World, Big Head Todd and The Monsters are releasing their first new studio album in four years entitled Riviera on their own Big Records label, which unlike many artist owned labels enjoys the muscle of major distribution through Warner Bros. They have more than 2,500 live dates under their collective belts, and performing live is where the band lives. Their live shows are incendiary. Todd �s scorching guitar licks and quiet charisma is a wonderful counterpoint to the easy give and take between him and lifelong friends bassist Rob and drummer Brian. Riviera is a fully realized collection of rousing rock songs reflecting a sense of hope and strength that�s perfect for 2002. Highlights include the straight-ahead topical rocker "Freedom Fighter," the mid-tempo �should I stay or should I go� heartbreaker "Again and Again," and the flat-out love plea "Julianna." The first single is "Wishing Well," a hard rocking spacious song showcasing what a matured, well-oiled machine this longtime three-man unit has become. Mohr, the band�s songwriter, says that Riviera came into being over the past four years. While pointing to a Latin sensuality and spirit that run through the album � and inspired the title�Todd says, "I sort of plotted each song as its own little Latin movie� the album is half Gabriel Marquez romance and half Clash war ballad." Mohr has also said, however, that Riviera is purely rock �n roll, "Primarily, it�s a rock record. There are not a lot of really band-oriented, raw records out there right now, like the first two Police albums and the early Pretenders stuff. There�s an excitement to that, that is similar to Riviera."
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Riviera is the first album since 1998�s Giant Records live CD Live Monsters, which showcases the band�s essential core, that of a consistently excellent and indefatigable touring band with great songs and a large and loyal following. It is their first full-length studio release since the acclaimed Beautiful World (also on Giant), produced by ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison. That disc featured inspired guest shots by P-Funk�s Bernie Worrell and the late, legendary John Lee Hooker, who joined BHTM for a bang-up rendition of his classic song "Boom Boom."
BHTM�s signing to Giant Records came about after label founder and industry legend Irving Azoff saw the trio perform and basically inked the deal that very same night. The band�s debut album for Giant was 1993�s platinum-plus Sister Sweetly, which featured the hit singles and Top 5 Rock tracks "Bittersweet," "Circle" and "Broken Hearted Savior," which made it the 8th most-played album on rock radio that year.
Giant had first heard about BHTM by way of their first two indie album releases on Big Records, which the band originally self-launched in 1989 for their debut CD, Another Mayberry. A fluid compendium of American song idioms and intelligent lyricism, it was followed in 1991 by the wonderfully ambient gem Midnight Radio.
With the recent closure of Giant Records, BHTM found themselves free agents once again, and the time felt right to revive their Big Records label for the release of Riviera. Bolstered by major label distribution through Warner Bros., and what the band calls an �a la carte� dream team of music industry heavyweights consulting in promotion, publicity, marketing and sales capacities, BHTM feels they have the very best of all worlds going for them. Mohr says that, "We�ve always made a lot of effort to ensure that the art side of our career is something we�re proud of," and with their new arrangement, they�re in the enviable position of calling all the creative shots, which is just how they like it.
BHTM might look like the guys next door, but their latest release, Riviera, is as colorful and exciting a musical journey as the promise that its geographical namesake implies.
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