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10 Albums You Need To Hear # 1: N.E. 2nd Ave. by Young Turk
Young Turk was a Miami, FL based hard rock band that was heavily influenced by classic rockers of the 60's and 70's such as The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople. Led by singer Rhett O'Neil, the band only released one major label album -- the brilliant N.E. 2nd Ave. The album is full of upbeat rockers and gentle ballads, visiting all points in between on a rock 'n' roll journey that should have brought along millions for the ride.
The album features excellent songwriting both musically and lyrically. Like Lou Reed and Bob Dylan, Young Turk is able to give us glimpses into the lives of everyday people and show us the individuality, oddity and uniqueness of each life they spoke about. Their songs are populated by your neighbors but your neighbors have never fascinated you like they do in these songs.
"The Saddest Song" opens the album, but rather than be the sappy ballad you might expect from the title, it is a kicking little rocker that is anything but sad and open the album with a bit of a bang. Things slow just a bit for the next track, "Wine," that explains love, "like wine, gets better with a little time." A message that has been passed on in many a rock song before, but seldom with the style and flourish done here.
"The Saddest Song" - Young Turk
The album continues with great songs like rockers "For No One In Particular," ballads like "What About You" and somewhere-in-betweens like "Blue Monday." Eventually you reach the heart of the album -- the three best songs that even if they had been surrounded by mediocre fillers would have still made this one a great one.
"Love American Style (N.E. 2nd Ave.)" is the centerpiece of the collection and ushers in this trilogy of perfection. It is a rocking tune that tells the story of Maria and her man who "might take a swing but he would never hit her." The song has a very "New York" feel to it, but most likely is set in Miami.
Next up is "Painting the Sun." This sweet ballad is the ultimate love song with Rhett proclaiming to his love "if fire decides to pour down from the sky, if that's where you will make our bed then that's where I will lie." The song focuses on a man's desire to be strong while facing the vulnerability he feels when dealing with love.
The third song is another rocker and the best song on the album, "Baby Ah." This is the song that Virgin Records should have pushed to get the album off the ground as it would have made a great MTV tune and video. As far as I know, it was never released and no video was made. I really think this would have been the song to generate initial sales on this record.
"Take a Chance" - Young Turk from EP prior to N.E. 2nd Ave.
While the final three songs are not quite the caliber of the previous three, they are all quite good and finish the album out in style. The last song, "Long Way Back," is the only one I have any complaint about as it is a little long at over seven minutes when it really does all it can do in under five. But considering how great this album is, that is a very small complaint.
Do not feel bad that you missed this should-be classic. I was fortunate enough to pick up the CD at a used CD shop for $1.00 15 years ago. At the time it was released in May 1992, I was working in a music store helping with new release orders and I had never even heard of them prior to happening upon it at the used shop. Way to market a band, huh?
After Young Turk, Rhett O'Neil went on to sing in a band called Butter Club that released one album in 1998. I have only heard one track from that album and it was a great song though not quite up to the standard set by Young Turk. Currently, Rhett performs with Rhett y Los Borrachos Empenados, a group of Cuban-American musicians from Miami.