July 04, 1988 12:00 PM

Treat Her Right

This bluesy Boston band’s approach to songwriting is, according to singer-guitarist Mark Sandman, to “resist the temptation to add. If you’re going to do something to a song, subtract.” That’s sound advice in these days of musical excess, and what’s left on Treat Her Right’s sharp debut is a set of 11 songs full of the authentic sound of such old blues masters as Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon delivered in a slightly more raucous style. Jim Fitting’s harmonica is the pulse of the band, and Billy Conway keeps the adrenaline pumping on drums and the “cocktail drum,” a free-standing, no-frills drum kit. Their first single, I Think She Likes Me, eerily conjures up the Doors at their bluesiest; it shuffles along like a typical guy-walks-into-a-bar-and-catches-a-girl’s-eye song until Sandman sings, “She told me things about her life/ But she never told me she was someone’s wife/ Man with the gun says ‘Why’d you buy her a drink?’/ I said, ‘I think she likes me, that’s what I think.’ ” As revivalists, the band rarely strays very far from the sinewy strains of Delta blues, which makes it harder for them to set themselves apart from the hundreds of other roadhouse bands who log endless miles from Beantown to Austin, Texas. But Treat Her Right has earned a chance to stand up and be noticed. (RCA)

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