The first thing you notice about the Spinatras’ @midnight.com is how Ross the Boss has packed all his old Dictator gee-tar licks into the first two songs. That’s OK, though, because hardly anyone outside o’ zealots and eccentrics has heard them. And if the licks are great—and they are—the owner should feel free to play ’em for anyone as often as he damn well pleases.
There’s a first-rate song about the singer’s fetish for Michelle Pfeiffer, complete with “woo-oh-woo”s from the Dics’ “(I Live for) Cars and Girls.” It will have you wondering how long it took to rhyme her last name with “cool rider.” (I reckon about three longnecks and a bag of pork rinds at the neighborhood sports bar.)
Fifteen years ago, “Michelle” would have been disarmingly cute, but now the communal sense of humor is so deteriorated the Spinatras have probably already been clandestinely reported to the NYC branch of the FBI as potential celebrity stalkers. Shouldn’t have made that comment about “premature ejaculation” on Spinatras.com, Ross. Net police are quite literal-minded, and the electric eye sees everything, trust me.
Then comes “Kansas”: three minutes of burning hard-pop glory. Ross and the boys play like desperate men heading for the border, any border, now that they’ve figured out that life’s a rum deal, complete with a malfunctioning automated telephone menu. It’s such a fine number, maybe the Spinatras should hire a bunch of ringers who can pass for Orange County teenagers and try to get it on Jug and Dimmy’s FarmShowArenaDotCom Club.
Some of @midnight.com sags a bit for want of a suitable change-up to its monument of chrome-steel rhythm guitar. Recycling “Susie Wong” from when Ross was in Shakin’ Street, for instance, would have been better than a hard rock song about molecular genetics. (The Dictators’ “Science Gone Too Far” worked because it was about B-movie science, a whole ‘nother matter.) “Ketchup” battles the blue bloods to good end, though, and there’s another toe-tapper that’ll make some women and male intellectuals chew the carpet. But they wouldn’t go to Spinatras shows anyway.