Sleeping on a Roller Coaster (1992) ***1/2
The commercial debacles of his two major label LPs must have soured Keene on the music biz, as this 5-song EP was his only release during the eight-year stretch between 1989's Based On Happy Times and his return in 1996 with Ten Years After. While none of these five songs leap out as eternal Keene klassiks, he yet again releases a consistently excellent selection of tuneful, sparkingly performed songs in the style he'd patented and perfected circa the mid-'80s. So let's not subtract points for brevity; any five of these tracks would've made fitting additions to any random Keene album at nearly any point in his career. You have to admire a man who delivers such sonic consistency; like another web reviewer, Scott Floman said of Al Green, he's so consistently good he's almost boring - but no, not really, not boring at all. Curiously enough, not contained herein is the title track, which wound up on The Real Underground compilation for some inexplicable reason, as stylistically it would have fit in fine (and is slightly better than the other five tracks, but only slightly). The sound is less unpleasantly dry than on Happy Times, a mid-way point between that LP's more rockist drive and Places' jingle. "Love is a Dangerous Thing," and "Alive," are driving pop-rockers, the first likely the best choice for a commercial single (which is likely why it's the lead track, eh?). "Driving Into the Sun," and "Down, Down, Down," shimmer more mid-tempoishly and are somewhat less catchy but fine. Finally, the less than twenty minute maxi-single concludes with a spacious ballad, "Waiting to Fly," with mild, very mild psychedelic touches as backwards guitars fade the record out. And there's that. It's on Matador, so perhaps they could attach this EP as bonus tracks on a reissue of one of the other albums like Ten Years After he recorded for the label. Till then, enjoy it as a koncentrated dose of killer Keene.