Roots rock reached a saturation point during the late 1980s, until alt rock trumped forced authenticity with pop glumness. Bands like the BoDeans had hit the charts' glass ceiling while exhausting critics' ability to devise new ways of selling the same old music to the same old yuppies. If not for the TV show Party of Five, no one would've heard the song "Closer to Free," and the Wisconsin retro-rockers would've disappeared like the Raindogs, Del Fuegos and countless more.
Years before "Free," the BoDeans had already fashioned a superb LP with their 1986 debut, produced by T Bone Burnett. Finally remastered and released on CD, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams is a treat for Americana fans or anyone wishing to hear rock played with feeling, grace, and economy.
Domestic-abuse anthem "She's a Runaway" presaged Thelma & Louise and the Dixie Chicks, and still stands as the most feminist and frightening country-rocker of the late 20th, while heartland pop like "Still the Night" and "Angels" evoke the sound of a bar band in heaven playing classic tunes you never heard on terrestrial radio. With liner notes by Bruce Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh and a DVD of a complete live 1985 set in Minneapolis, this reissue remind us that there was some great roots-rock in the Reagan era. (Slash-reissue)