|Rolling Stone Issue 540 · December 1st, 1988|
Review of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers first national album, Rumble - December 1, 1988 issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
Record Ratings per editors of Rolling Stone
Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers
★★★ [3 stars]
Philadelphia's Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers are a strong, dynamic live band. Coming out of the scene that produced the Hooters and Robert Hazard, Conwell is clearly the pick of the pack. His best material is engaging , spry and witty, and his band can build on traditional rock motifs without succumbing to them.
But then why is much of Rumble disappointing? The band comes on steaming in the kickoff cut, "I'm Not Your Man" (a spirited, sometimes hilarious recasting of the ideas in Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe"), but too often both Conwell and his support sound stuck in the Beaver Brown Purgatory for Derivate Bands. There's a bit of Keith Richards guitar here, a splash of Max Weinberg drums there, a torrent of David Bowie phrasing over there. The production is clean and unobtrusive, but that clarity often serves to underline the indecisiveness of the arrangements. Whenever Conwell and the band seem about to sail into uncharted waters -- say, on the rampaging "Workout" -- they stop themselves and return to the riffs they grew up on.
The album has some fine songs, particularly "I'm Not Your Man" and the simmering ballad "Gonna Breakdown," but the compactness and muscularity of the best ones leave you longing for more.