Derrick Anderson – “A World of My Own” (Omnivore Recordings)
As a member of the much beloved Andersons from 1995-2004, Derrick Anderson was a major player in the Los Angeles pop scene that spawned plenty of memorable music and seemed poised to be a springboard to take some artists to the next level. (Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way; that story is a book just waiting to be written.) Anderson eventually moved on to become the touring bassist with the Bangles, and now he’s stepping into the spotlight with his first-ever solo release, A World of My Own – and it’s pretty darn fantastic.
Anderson’s tunes with his former band—he was one of three songwriters, along with Wil O’Brien and Robbie Rist—tended to lean towards muscular, melodic, Smithereens-like guitar-pop. There’s plenty of that here; as a matter of fact, the Smithereens themselves guest on “Waiting For You.” But there are plenty more primo moments that find Anderson touching on other musical genres as well: there’s the funk-dipped “You Don’t Have to Hurt No More,” the punky shouter “Stop Messin’ About” (a bit of a Little Richard vibe on this one), an atmospheric slow one called “Spring” (which finds Derrick reuniting with his Anderson “brothers”), the garage-rockin’ guitar riffs that power “Phyllis and Sharon,” and the sweet, jangly “My Prediction,” which features some cool ‘70s keyboard flourishes and Beatles-influenced backing vocals (think “You Won’t See Me”).
Speaking of the Beatles, A World of My Own closes out with a raucous cover of the Fab Four’s “Norwegian Wood,” which can best be described as a Hendrixian stomp. Anderson takes a few liberties with the lyrics (“…I noticed there wasn’t a chair nowhere…nowhere to sit”), throws in a James Brown-ish “Hey!” for good measure and transforms the folky, sitar-laden original into something completely different and completely cool. And as an aside, the power popping “Happiness” is the catchiest 1:42 you’ll hear this year.
Most reviews of A World of My Own will no doubt focus on the contributions of the array of guest stars – and there are a slew of them, including Matthew Sweet, Tommy Keene, the Bangles, a couple of Muffs, a few Cowsills and others – but rest assured, this is clearly Derrick Anderson’s show from start to finish. It’s a collection of wonderfully timeless pop songs played and sung by Anderson with a little help from his friends, and it also serves as proof that nice guys – of which Derrick Anderson certainly is one – don’t always finish last. A year-end top-ten contender, for sure. Grade: A