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Three best hard-rock songs you can't hear on radio anywhere this year: Rick Springfield's cover of the Easybeats' "I'll Make You Happy," Billy Butcher's "Ghosts," and Chris Ryan's "East Coast Liner." The first would crush Velvet Revolver's "Slither" at white-trash rock FM if the game weren't rigged. "Ghosts" is Southern rock and honking blues from Canadawhat Aerosmith should have published this year if not so spineless and craven. And the lastfrom Ryan's Blackout Moneygets up with any Mick Jones/Lou Gramm riffster on the first two Foreigner albums.
Ryan's drummer wrote me last summer, finding community in a gripe I'd made concerning hard-rock bands manned with school-of-stumblebum guitarists. He wanted to know what happened to all the good stuff. But Blackout Money, along with everything else ever sent along from Ryan & Co., ably collects those things that made fine, big-guitar arena rock years ago: one good singer-songwriter, arrangements that marry smashing riff with melody, and a drummer who knows how to hip-swivel as well as point the finger at the guitar man when it's time for climactic rock action.
So though Chris Ryan and his buds play dives in Manhattan, Blackout Money is made for drive-time airwaves: They go from hot-blooded, to R.E.O./T.W.O,to even a little something of Jackson Browne's "Redneck Friend."
Chris Ryan plays the Continental June 24.