The album opens with its title track, “A Good Thing Going,” which was written by Engelbert Humperdinck (who himself is releasing a new album in a couple of days). I love the opening lines: “We had a good thing going/It’s all over now.” That is basically how a lot of us felt about this country in 2016, and in the years since. But in this song, of course, he’s singing about a relationship. The original version was included on Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1969 album Engelbert. Dex Romweber delivers a seriously good rendition, completely throwing himself into it. And on certain words, when his voice takes on a raw edge, there is something of a Beatles feel. This track features some nice backing vocal work by Taz Halloween, Jody Kidney and Kristy Benson, who add to its energy. Kevin Dixon is on guitar, Stu Cole is on bass, Mike Walters is on organ, and Hunter Landon is on percussion. That’s followed by a cover of “If You Love Me (Really Love Me),” here titled simply “If You Love Me.” This track features a strong vocal performance. And again, he completely inhabits the song. It has that classic sound and vibe, particularly in the guitar work and that work by Laura Thomas on violin. “If you love me, really love me/Let it happen, darling, I won’t care.”
“Going Down” is the first of the album’s original compositions, though it too has a wonderful classic sound, with some delicious, moody work on saxophone and a raw edge. “I’m going down/I’m going down,” he repeats here. And man, there is no doubt about it, with that slow steady, brooding rhythm and sound. And we are right there with him. I fucking love this. That dark work on saxophone is just perfect. This is one of my favorite tracks. Melissa Swingle plays the saw on it. Then we get a cool, dark sort of rockabilly in his cover of Johnny Horton’s “Comin’ Home.” When he sings that he’s coming home, it sounds like it might contain a threat. Right? There is something ominous in the sound. Or perhaps together they’ll do something questionable, not to each other, but to the town he says they’re going to do tonight. Look out, citizenry!
“Andrieux Boogie” is an original composition, but again with a vibe from the past, and featuring the saxophone delivering some delicious work. And we get some delightful work on piano. This instrumental track is a lot of fun. I like that percussion. Really, everything about this is wonderful. I just wish it were a little longer. Then his cover of “For All We Know” comes as a surprise, in the way it is handled. This one is a solo effort, with Dex Romweber on piano and vocals, quite a bit different from that Hal Kemp recording from the 1930s, or the Dinah Washington or Spinners versions from the 1960s. It is kind of mesmerizing, which works well with the lines “For all we know/This could only be a dream.” And yes, it seems a good possibility, doesn’t it? “We come and we go/Like the ripples, like the ripples in the stream.” And then the song grows in power when he gets to the point: “So, baby, love me tonight/For tomorrow was only meant for some.”
When I was in my teens, I started to get really into the music of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and also into some of the films that came out during that time. One day I rented a videocassette of a movie called Wild In The Streets, and I loved it. The cast includes Hal Holbrook, Shelley Winters, Richard Pryor and Christopher Jones. There is a lot to enjoy about this movie, but certainly one of the main things is the music, particularly the song “Shape Of Things To Come,” which was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Well. You know, the team responsible for “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and “Shades Of Gray.” Well, Dex Romweber delivers a cool cover of it here. As much as I can recall the original, this one seems fairly faithful, and Dex Romweber at times offers a howling sort of vocal approach. I’m going to have to revisit that movie at some point. I believe I have the DVD around here somewhere. That’s followed by another instrumental track, “Twine Time.” It features some nice work on organ, and a drum solo in the middle, but it is that guitar work that I especially love about this track.
Perhaps the most surprising choice of covers on this album is “Tell Laura I Love Her.” It was written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh, and was a hit for Ray Peterson. It had been a long time since I’d listened to this song, and I had completely forgotten that spoken word introduction. This is one of those teen tragedy songs that were popular for a time, and later poked fun at by “The Homecoming Queen’s Got A Gun” (which I suppose is no longer funny, due to this country’s grotesque love affair with mass shootings at schools and other places). Anyway, Dex Romweber delivers an earnest rendition, reminding us that this is actually a good song, a song with merit. Katherine Simonsen and Matt Levy provide backing vocals on this track. That’s followed by “Saturday Morning,” an original composition. This is a fun one. Here are its opening lines: “Friday morning/Got to go to bed/Who cares about the shape I’m in, the shape I’m in/Wish I was dead/Friday morning/Got to go to bed.” The next stanza is “Saturday morning,” but the rest of the lines are the same. Yeah, it’s totally delightful. On this one he is joined only by Mark Simonsen on drums, bass and piano. Mark Simonsen also plays bass and drums on “Sally,” another original song. I like that sudden change, which occurs twice, when he sings “You must think I’m a whore/You must think I’m a bore/I’m just getting off tour.” The album then concludes with a cover of Bert Kaempfert’s “I Found My Love,” a tune that was included on Kaempfert’s 1974 album The Most Beautiful Girl. This rendition features some good work on organ and saxophone.
CD Track List
- A Good Thing Going
- If You Love Me
- Going Down
- Comin’ Home
- Andrieux Boogie
- For All We Know
- Shape Of Things To Come
- Twine Time
- Tell Laura I Love Her
- Saturday Morning
- I Found My Love
Good Thing Goin’ is scheduled to be released May 5, 2023 on Propeller Sound Recordings.