Darryl Rhoades used to be Atlanta’s funnyman, a satirical songwriter and performer leading wacky yet tremendously talented ensembles like Hahavishnu Orchestra and the Mighty Mighty Men from Glad through eye-rolling laff tracks such as “She’s a Mortician’s Dream Come True,” “Meet My Wife (She’s My Sister)” and “You Say I’m Schizophrenic (But I Don’t Think We Are).” Though best known for Burgers From Heaven (1979) and Better Dead Than Mellow (1985), he’s remained prolific, regularly releasing CDs while making a living as a traveling stand-up comic.
Beginning with 2003’s The Shadow You Cast (Depends on Where You Stand), he largely dropped the goofs and focused on straightforward songwriting, at least for some of his albums. Such is the case with The Last Goodbye, his latest. The songs may indeed be clever, but the guffaws are (for the most part) absent. As usual, Rhoades surrounds himself with old-school ATL musicians – guitarist Tommy Strain, keyboardist Marty Kearns, bassists Tommy Vickery and Bob Glick to name a few – and at times he gives up the spotlight altogether – he doesn’t even sing lead on a quarter of these new songs, playing drums while Steve Barker or Martina Albano take over. There’s a wealth of variety on The Last Goodbye – blue-eyed soul, swamp-rock, lots of country & western, Orbisonic early rock ‘n’ roll, even a stark spoken track recited over Jeff Mosier’s forlorn banjo. The hepcat blues of “Cool Ain’t Payin’ the Bills” and the jumpin’ jive of “I’ve Got a Problem” are the two chucklers that wouldn’t be out of place on one of his “funny” albums.
Some of the songs veer too far into pastiche territory, and it’s a rather disjointed album, but not a bad one by any means. But gee whiz, things sure were better when musicians were writing songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Wasn’t Made for Queers”!