Double Your Pleasure

Southern Gentlemen

Leviathan Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


I've listened to a lot of the projects that David T. Chastain releases on his Leviathan Records label and I've finally concluded what these releases have in common. Remember in the 80s when Shrapnel Records would release all these 'guitar hero' bands, predominantly solo discs from Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine? You knew that when you unwrapped the plastic and put a Shrapnel release in your cassette deck, you were going to be blown away by the guitar playing.

Two decades later, when I put Double Your Pleasure in the old CD player, I was expecting to be blown away by the guitar playing and that's what I got. Unlike the Shrapnel releases, Leviathan Records have a slightly more diverse catalog, mainly because of the two Southern Gentlemen releases. They have Joe Stump, they have the progressive band CJSS, the guitar master series (I've only heard the Michael Harris release in this series), and the power metal of Zannister. All of these releases feature stoked guitar players that make me want to tune up an air guitar.

Double Your Pleasure, the follow-up to the Southern Gentlemen debut my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Exotic Dancer Blues, continues the trend of Leviathan releases inspiring air-guitar fantasies. Guitarist David T. Chastain returns as the front man for the band, as does bassist Kevin Kekes, but they have replaced Dennis Lesh with drummer Mike Haid. The end result is blues that grooves.

Opening track "My Best Friend's Girl" starts the release off with an up-tempo guitar stretch. It becomes obvious very quickly that this is Chastain's showcase. These songs have a jam-band feel and Haid and Kekes provide the foundation for Chastain to solo over and groove over. Chastain also handles vocals and has a "dirty" gravelly voice. The lyrics he sings are typical blues fodder, focusing on relationships and women in practically all the songs.

What could have made this CD better would be to re-arrange the order of the songs. This CD grinds to a halt with the third track "I Languish for You," a slow ballad that just comes too early in the CD. I know that there are many releases that put a ballad as the third track, but on this release, it just doesn't flow. The first two tracks are two upbeat rock 'n roll-style tunes and the switch to this ballad is jarring, almost unsettling. In a perfect world, I would have put track 4, "Not Worth My Grave" as track three. It is a slower shuffling blues. It is not a full-fledged ballad, but my recommendation is to play track 2, then 4, then 3 on your CD player. In my ears, the songs flows better.

That is until track 7, a wretched 6:36 long track called "Slutovirgin" which does nothing for me. It sounds like something Poison would write: "She has the look/ She has the style/ She has the way/ That drives men wild/ She'll lead you on/ She'll play the part/ She'll show her skin/ She'll break your heart." The music can barely, barely, save the track. It's an AC/DC-ish riff-based tune, like "Back in Black," with a solid drumbeat and a sparse guitar part that lets the lyrics 'hang' in your ears between riff. Still, if I had my druthers, this track would be on the cutting-room floor.

The songs are predominantly in the 6:00 range, carrying forward a characteristic of their debut. It's like they turned on the recorder in the studio and started jamming. I really like that live vibe. The drums and bass parts are solid. The rhythm section reminds me of AC/DC (them again). There's not a lot of flash from either instrument, a few brief 'licks' on the snare or toms, but for the most part, the purpose of the Kekes/Haid rhythm section is to groove. This CD would be a good example of how drummers and bassists can play together for beginning musicians. The spotlight, however, stays on Chastain.

Rating: B-

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© 2003 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Leviathan Records, and is used for informational purposes only.