Brain Surgeons

Brain Surgeons

with The X-Brothers

Brownies, NYC • 2.7.98

Some 30 years ago, drummer/singer/songwriter/guitarist Albert Bouchard came to Long Island by way of upstate New York and landed in manager/producer/lyricist Sandy Pearlman’s Stony Brook University den of antiquity. The Soft White Underbelly and the Stalk Forrest Group eventually backed up a young Jackson Browne, befriended a young Patti Smith, and landed deals with a young Elektra Records before evolving into Blue Oyster Cult — which by now featured Al’s similarly multi-talented brother Joe on bass. Albert spent the next decade with this “thinking man’s heavy metal band” that went from “cult heroes” to AOR mainstays (“Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” “Burnin’ For You,” “Joan Crawford”). Portentously, Albert left in ’82 when the gravy days were about to end, and Joe hung on for a few more years.

This show at NYC industry hot spot Brownies was like old home week for the BOC camp and various ancillary members and hangers on. Jack Rigg, David Roter, and Helen Wheels have all worked with the BOC camp and each did their own inspired sets.

The X Brothers feature Joe Bouchard and, get this, Andy, Billy, and occasionally, Tommy Hilfiger. Bassist Andy works for Tommy’s little billion dollar clothing company, and now has his own record label. Billy is the most accomplished musician of the brood, and also does time with Albert Bouchard in the Brain Surgeons. Joe’s got an M.A. in Music and runs special educational music programs, so this rock & roll thing is just a hobby now. “On Fire With Love,” “Hot Time In Hell,” and “Run For The Sun” from the X-Brothers new one-off album provided familiar Blue Oyster Cult themes of flames, hell and the cosmos. Oh yeah, the tunes also provided a nice swift aural kick in the ass. Joe was always good for penning a gem or two on each BOC album and “Dr. Music” and “Hot Rails to Hell” appropriately ended the set.

As if this family plot couldn’t get any thicker, the lead vocalist of the Brain Surgeons is rock critic Deborah Frost, who happens to be married to Albert Bouchard. She doesn’t have stellar range, but her don’t-fuck-with-me delivery works well within the confines of the band’s sonic crunch. “I Play the Drums” reminded us of how tasty yet forceful Albert’s drumming is. He kept a frenetic, furious pace while marching in and around (and outside of) the club — banging on just about everything — in perfect time. The Blue Oyster Cult material was, of course, the real treat. Various member of the entourage joined in for “Dominance & Submission,” “Cities On Flame,” “Astronomy,” “Red & Black,” and “Born to be Wild.” Gazing upon one of the Hilfiger boys, Deborah made a comment about how rare it was to see Armani on stage. Well, I don’t see too many middle-aged whiteys in Tommy Hilfiger these days, myself. But then again, this time warp brought us back and, perhaps, a bit forward as well.

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