Frank Opperman & Prime Time Addiction - Serial Boyfriend

Serial Boyfriend

Released:
1999, Gallo Records, GWVCD 17

SA Rock Digest charts:
highest position: 5
weeks on Top 20: 7

Tracks:

  1. Messin With Love
  2. Just Wondering
  3. Bye Bye Baby
  4. Come Clean
  5. Happy Birthday
  6. Save Me
  7. Blah
  8. So Sorry
  9. Sentimental Trash
  10. Pink Dress
  11. Why

Musicians:

  • Frank Opperman: Lead vocals
  • Michael Maxwell: Acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Anton laMour: Electric Guitar
  • Concorde Nkabinde: Bass
  • Barry van Zyl: Drums, percussion

Review:

The lead instrument on this CD is Frank Opperman's voice. It is warm, engaging, friendly, and folky, as well as distinctive enough to be the lead pipes on a rock album. Frank sings raspy, like the ten days' growth he sports on the cover photo. It's a lived-in voice so it figures that Frank's voice is consistently prominent in mix while the PTA musicians behind him play energetic support.

The band is Frank Opperman (vocals), who co-wrote all of the songs with Michael Maxwell (acoustic guitar and the other vocals credit; I presume that's a clean-shaven Michael on the cover with a suitably scruffy Frank) -- except for one song these two wrote with Dorothy Ann Gould. Anton LaMour plays the electric guitar, Concorde Nkabinde does the bass honors, and Barry Van Zyl is the man on drums and percussion.

Michael's guitar adds an acoustic rock feel and warms the music nicely -- not that it would have been cold with Frank's singing up front. The electric guitar is a definite rock guitar and comes to the fore occasionally with some nice fills. The bass is steady under all, though not prominent, and suits this album admirably.

Since noticing Barry Van Zyl's work on the second Squeal album, 'Man and Woman', I've seen his name pop up here and there. The mix is different on this work than on Squeal's 'Man and Woman', though. Barry's drum work is not so widely separated from the other instruments as on a Squeal album -- but then, this is a different style of rock, with vocal stylings by South Africa's triple threat.

When I first played this album I immediately warmed to Frank's homey, easygoing, almost conversational style of singing that invited me into the home of this album. His voice delivers and suits his hip, world-wise lyrics perfectly. Frank can use the word "groovy" naturally in 'So Sorry' without a trace of self-consciousness. Rhymes flow easily without any sense of being contrived; these are honest, open, and well-written lyrics in loosely structured songs.

The opening song, 'Messing with Love', is a cleverly written and cleverly sung piece. Like just about all of the album, this song is exceedingly easy to listen to.

In 'Just Wondering', subtle word play and facile use of language abounds -- as it does in many of Opperman and Maxwell's songs.

'Bye Bye Baby' is a break-up song with a difference. At times serious, at times humorous, as in, "The only thing that's moving is you through the door."

'Come Clean' is a baptismal song or at least a song about coming clean, being honest, seeking a better life. It is uplifting in melody and tone.

The only time the loose style and modern cool lyrics and Frank's voice don't mesh perfectly with his subject matter is in a few spots on 'Happy Birthday'. He sings "Happy Birthday baby Jesus, happy birthday baby Lord" full of feeling, but the too-trendy lyrics ("The big 2-K", "Thanks for popping in") tend to sound insincere -- though I conclude he is sincere by the end of each listen.

The lyrics of 'Blah' have a mild, passing resemblance to a Stones song, though these lyrics have more to say. The line about "You make a dead man come undone" plays with the listener's expectations and knowledge of the Stones song.

'So Sorry' is a catchy tune with a hooky chorus. It includes some words all women want to hear from their men ("I was wrong, you were right"), and words men often say ("Please come back to bed... let's make love instead").

'Why' is a pleasant and soft finish for a nice visit to the musical home of Frank Opperman and Prime Time Addiction.

'Serial Boyfriend' is a friendly batch of tunes -- music for grown-up rock fans who have experienced some of the world and who have enjoyed a few relationships on life's path. I'm going to watch out for more work from the songwriting team of Maxwell and Opperman. Real lyrics for real people, sung with heart.

Kurt Shoemaker, SA Rockdigest#79, October 2000

All info supplied by John Samson, May 2002


TOPback to where you came from
South Africa's Rock Legends
South African Rock Digest