Johnny Socko - Quatro (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Johnny Socko

Quatro (1999)

Rock n Roll Rampage

There's something in the air, could cut it with a knife. This heartache and despair it complicates your life. - Johnny Socko

Mix-tapes are cool. It's usually a fun way to showcase someone a handful of new music that they may never have heard before or maybe you're trying to get a girl to realize you like her so you put a bunch of songs on there that are all lovey dovey. Now there is a procedure to making a mix-tape too, you can't just collect fifteen songs and toss ‘em on that cassette with no order or thought behind it. You usually want to start out with a song that grabs your audience's attention quickly and sucks them in, but don't you dare make it the mix's best song! You slowly want to build up to a climax that leaves the listener thinking, "Wow, that was a damn good compilation!" Done successfully you'll inspire them to check out some of those band's material or you'll be making out with her while listening to it.

Anyways, I kind of consider Johnny Socko's effort "Quatro" a mix-tape, a not so good one at that. The record opens up with one of best Ska songs I've ever heard with "Dancin' Queen." The strumming of the guitar in the right speaker quickly fades into filling your left and right ears with an excellent trumpet beat, then all mellows out as Chris Smail's unique voice delivers lyrics of heartbreak across the stereo, then things break out for the chorus that will have you shaking your little rump in no time. This song is lively, upbeat, fun, the best on the record and one of the few I can listen to on a regular basis.

The rest of the album goes as such -- "Rocks In My Head" is sort of like a radio friendly pop-rock song with a trumpet line thrown in here and there. This tune is then followed by the elevator music styled song "Coffee Girl." Good thing I wasted so much energy dancing to the first track because I'm really getting tired. If you were like me though and were falling asleep by this point, track four will sure wake you up. "Old School Master" is a really bad nerd-core rap song; if the opening lines weren't bad enough the female chorus is sure to aggravate you enough to hit the skip button. "Coffee Girl" part too takes up track six "Save Yourself." They follow with an upbeat punk song that flows into a Ska-Punk tune as they "Work That Guitar (for MU330)." "Hey Hey Hi, is sort of like a traditional Ska song. The following song "Devil's Advocate" pumps out a great, Ska song in the vein of the Blue Meanies or Skankin' Pickle. But I was quickly let back down on the bass bumpin' "Sand Between my Toes." Things start to wrap up with "No More Excuses" which has a country feel to it and "Half As Much" finally finishes things up in a funky rock style.

I began comparing this record to a mix-tape because it is different all the way through. No two songs are done in the same fashion, so for all you diversity freaks out there, I strongly recommend you getting this. As for me though, I'm just not feeling the record. I love "Dancin' Queen" & "Devil's Advocate" but the rest just leaves me wanting more songs like those two. Maybe the guys thought taking such a diverse approach to a record would be a good thing, but I felt that it kind of ruined a band that obviously has a lot of potential or maybe they just decided to kick the whole Ska thing like everyone else, but couldn't quite let go.