When their first album came out, some would have argued that except for their offbeat instruments—such as the Melodica and the dulcimer—the Hooters would be just an average, workmanlike band who lucked out on a record deal. Three albums later, these Philly natives are still punching out sinewy rock and roll that distances them from the pack.
Zig Zag should also be noted as an attempt to break out from the band’s “All You Zombies” mold that has served them since they debuted in 1985 with Nervous Night. Composers Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman do get socially conscious, but fear not, the music is lively even when they sing about the homeless on “Brother, Don’t You Walk Away.” There is an honest feeling of frustration too: “Even here and now as I lie awake/ Tell me how much difference can one man make.”
The classic “500 Miles” gets dusted off and given a reggae kick, while the backing vocals are quaintly handled by the old custodians of the tune, Peter, Paul & Mary. “Mr. Big Baboon,” a raucous party platter, equates a certain hairy inhabitant of the jungle with a superpower of the world. The only really flawed track is “Beat Up Guitar” where Hyman and Bazilian look back in a trite way on the Hooters’ early, lean years. The other nine songs, however, are worthy of a band that knows how to put on a rousing, rocking Hooter-nanny. (Columbia)