Better Off Dead
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Better Off Dead

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Better Off Dead have certainly done some impressive production work, considering that Girl With A Job was recorded in a bedroom in Jersey City. Incorporating, blues, rockabilly, swing and pretty much anything else that was once considered just good old rock 'n' roll, these Jersey boys put a new stomp on the Treiners' Rockin' is 'R' Business and Bo Diddley's Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut, as well as rolling out several chuckle worthy tunes by singer VD King, like Did Your Dog Bite The Landlord? and Come Down Off The Roof. The pomade pack should be down on their knees thanking God for this one. -Now Magazine Toronto

- Now Magazine - Toronto


A good sense of humor is an essential element for a blues songwriter (no one was more subtly funny than Willie Dixon), so any band with V.D. King tunes is already a step ahead of the competition. Girl With a Job (GarageLand 0722) from New Jersey's Better Off Dead doesn't look or sound like the budget production it is (the liner notes say it was "recorded in a bedroom in Jersey City"). It's got thick, meaty production, a batch of great songs, and fiery playing from guitarists King and Don Kenny and harpist Tim Cassidy, backed by a tough rhythm section. This disc is a blues party all by itself. Best cuts: the title tune ("I'm looking for a girl/I'm looking for a job/I'm looking for a girl, a girl with a job"), the loser's lament "Sleepin' On the Sofa," and the groovy "Sock It to 'em JB" (that's Bond ... James Bond). Highly recommended. - Blues Revue Magazine - Blues Revue Magazine


(translated from flemish)
"Warning: contains genuine foot stompin, house rocking r&b from the swamps of New Jersey!" I couldn't have given a better discription, because "that's what it's all about!" Greasy and swampy boogie in the best Paladins, Tailgators- and Blasters tradition. Girl With A Job is Better Off Dead's second CD and an unbelievable step forwards. Their first CD was certainly good, but here and there a bit rough.<br>Here they go 'full speed' on a "a wild ride through boogie country". 17 songs served with a hard beat. Rockabilly, swing, blues, Bo Diddley beats and high octane r&b mixed together to form a highly flammable cocktail.<br>They're no purists, they tackle all styles of music. It's difficult to pick a couple of songs, because I constantly play the whole CD, but what they do with the Trenier's Rockin' Is 'R' Business is masterly. Well written humorous lyrics (the titles are a good indication: Sleepin' On The Sofa Tonight, Did Your Dog Bite The Landlord?, Sixpack And You, Gin And Tonic Tonight, Buzz Off….) and a solid, professional production make this CD a little masterpiece. When you're in the mood to 'let it all hang out,' or go wild, Better Off Dead is your thing totally! High time to get these guys to Belgium for some steaming concerts. - Rootstown Magazine (Belgium)


Here's a CD that is sure to put a wide and manic smile on your face: Girl With A Job from Jersey City, N.J. band Better Off Dead (GarageLand Records). If you like the Fabulous Thunderbirds for their raunchiness, and Little Charlie & The Nightcats for their humor, or if you like the zaniness of Bo Diddley's brand of R&B, then you'll find this CD to be right up your alley. Apart from three rather obscure covers (Rex Garvin's ode to James Brown, "Sock it to 'Em JB," The Treniers' "Rockin' is 'R' Business" and Bo Diddley's "Mama Keep your Big Mouth Shut"), every song is an original, with plenty of fat juicy guitars, rugged but right harmonica licks, big bouncy beats and feel-good choruses sung by everybody and their friends (including Shemekia Copeland's keyboard player, Doña Oxford). Singer/guitarist (and songwriter) VD King is not exactly a classically trained singer, but his throaty party hardy voice is just the right instrument for this here fiesta in your CD player. If you end up dancing on the kitchen table or jumping naked in your neighbor's pool while listening to this CD, don't be too disturbed by your own actions. These things happen when you're having so much fun. Now stop reading this review and head on over to www.betteroffdead.com. You can thank me later." -Blues Bytes Magazine

- Blues Bytes Magazine


Better Off Dead gets my vote for best low-budget recording of 2000 (quite an accomplishment considering they made the record in 1997). A regular attraction at the annual Blues 2000 and Beyond Festival in Sullivan County, NY, VD King and Better off Dead represent only the good in terms like "garage band," "bar band," and "home grown." Authentic in their nods to the blues, Better off Dead are not exactly a blues band, and though they’re not quite a rock-a-billy outfit, they capture the rebel spirit of rock’s early days with abandon. It’s part Dave Edmunds, part George Thorogood, part Chuck Berry and a whole lotta fun - not in any particular order. Best served with your favorite beer. A cool recording from a cool band. -Rhythm and News - Rhythm and News


Discography

1) Better Off Dead (self titled)
2) Girl with a Job

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Girl With A Job, Better Off Dead's second and most recent album is 17 glistening globs of greasy goodness, guaranteed to get your good foot going. Neither blues purists nor swing/rockabilly revivalists, Better Off Dead make clear from the first spin that this is not your father's bluesmobile. From the stompin', swampin' swagger of the title track, to the hoppin' hoedown hoodoo of "Voodoo Doll," to the sweat-soaked swingin' of "Diggin' My Own Grave," Better Off Dead are more tempting than a keg party at the Betty Ford Center.

A Little History
Besides holding claim to having a luxury condominium complex built upon a toxic waste dump, Jersey City, NJ is also the car theft capital of the world, has some of the nation's highest property taxes, has virtually no school system, and has been called everything from an "armpit" to the "anti-zeitgeist." The members of Better Off Dead just call it home.

The origins of the band go way back to when guitarist/vocalist VD King first ran into guitarist Don Kenny loading musical equipment on the Jersey City streets. " I figured he was either stealing it, or he was in a band, or both," explains VD. The two subsequently struck up a long lasting musical friendship that has led to Better Off Dead.

Joining VD and Don are Professor Tim Cassidy on harmonica and the chain smokin' rhythm section of Mike Kenny on drums and Arthur Zo on bass. All five had previously put time in a variety of other groups, playing everything from pop, punk, and soul to rockabilly and swing. "The band's existed since 1995, but for the longest time we didn't consider ourselves a band, more like a social gathering," offers guitarist Kenny.

Lifting their name from an obscure Bill Withers 45 that VD found in the trash (no, they aren't named after the John Cusack movie), the newly christened Better Off Dead headed for the clubs. The band got their first big break when a live cassette tape landed in the hands of a Canadian concert promoter. This led to the band playing three nights at the 1996 Montreal Blues Festival.

Meanwhile, back in the states, Better Off Dead played long and hard over the next year, performing dozens of shows in Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, while mixing a wild sonic concoction from virtually every era of American music and in the process, creating a musical margarita all their own. In summer of 1997, the band locked themselves up in VD's tiny bedroom and an adjoining bathroom to record a couple of songs. The result was Better Off Dead, a full-length album that delivered on all the raw exuberance of the band live. Well received by both fans and the press, including LIVING BLUES, BLUES REVUE, and BLUES ACCESS magazines, the debut CD garnered airplay as far away as Greece and Belgium, and helped to land the band a slot at the NXNE festival in Toronto in 1998 and 1999 and New York's Blues 2000 festival.

Returning once again to the bedroom, Better Off Dead cut the tracks that would become their second recording -- Girl With A Job! Featuring 14 tunes penned by VD King, Better Off Dead also rips through the Treniers' "Rockin Is Our Business," turns in a shakin' and stirring version of the mighty Rex Garvin's "Sock It To 'em JB," and gives Bo Diddley's "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" a healthy punch.

Like an old sponge on the counter of a musical greasy spoon, Better Off Dead manage to sop up almost every musical influence around them until the whole thing smells down and dirty. Yet when you wring it out, you can't help but exclaim, "Mmm, that sure is some tasty soup!" OK, maybe that's the wrong metaphor, or is it a simile? Ah forget it, these guys are just plain cookin'!