In so many ways, Derrick Anderson’s debut album “A World of My Own” delivers a heaping helping of sonic comfort food for anyone who craves jangling guitar hooks and pure-pop vocal harmonies.
Drawing inspiration from the Cavern Club, Brill Building and Laurel Canyon, the vocalist/bassist’s 13 songs feature guest performances from an array of kindred spirits – including The Bangles, The Smithereens, Matthew Sweet, Tommy Keene, Steve Barton (Translator) and The Cowsills.
Throughout, Anderson – who joined The Bangles as the group’s bass player in 2008 – reveals riffs worthy of the heyday of Union Jack pop, flavored with nifty lyrical twists.
But perhaps the most unexpected twist isn’t in the music itself: “I guess most people would be surprised to find that it’s by a 53-year-old black guy from Toledo, Ohio,” he laughs.
“If I don’t get to make another record, this is the one that really stays true to who I am. And hey, if you only get to make one record, these are some really good folks to have on your side. I had all these friends in the orbit of my musical universe, so I was lucky enough to get them to pitch in.”
The album opens with a pair of salvos: the upbeat “Send Me Down a Sign” and the heavy-hitting “Waiting For You” which features Anderson backed by The Smithereens (Pat Dinizio, Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Severo Jornacion). The sonic punch of “Waiting For You” is heightened by a panoramic mix from producer Ed Stasium. Renowned for his work with The Ramones, Smithereens and Talking Heads, Stasium mixed two additional tracks on “A World of My Own”: the party-driven “Stop Messin’ About” and Anderson’s wild-and-woolly cover of “Norwegian Wood.”
Other highlight tracks on “A World of My Own”
“You Don’t Have to Hurt No More” brims with horn riffs and vintage keyboards. A blend of Revolver-era sassiness and modern, bittersweet sensibilities.
“When I Was Your Man” showcases Bangles’ guitarist Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson, along with Kim Shattuck (Muffs, Pandoras, Pixies) on guitar and vocals. The moment you hear their blockbuster “deet, deet, deet” backing vocals you’ll be hooked. The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs joins the Peterson sisters for backing vocals on two other songs: “Something New” and “Spring.”
“Happiness” features stinging guitar lines by Matthew Sweet. Less than two minutes long, “this song was meant to be a heat-seeking pop missile that stands up to repeated listenings,” Anderson nods with a chuckle; “a concise nugget of forlorn goodness.”
“A Mother’s Love” showcases incomparably lush vocals by Bob, John and Susan Cowsill. “It was great to see masters at work, watching how they come up with parts. And when they were finally done, there was THAT sound! Who else can do it better than the Cowsills?”
The driving rocker “Checking Out” confronts the rude truth of mortality. “Not everybody gets the luxury of hanging around as long as we have. Count your blessings. Do what you can, while you can, because one day you won’t be able to — and you don’t know when that’s going to be.”
The title of “Phyllis & Sharon” offers a sly reference to Elton John and Rod Stewart. Anderson says guitarist/engineer Steve Refling nailed it perfectly when he described the song as having “one foot in The Who, and one foot in The Kinks.”
Wrapping up the album, the dreamy “Spring” provides a soft-focus reflection of Anderson’s personality – and his approach to music making. For starters, it reunites him with the members of Anderson’s own combo The Andersons!. He’s joined by longtime friends/collaborators: guitarists Robbie Rist-Anderson and Wil O’Brien-Anderson; and drummer Marc Joseph-Anderson. Together, the four Andersons! amigos romped throughout LA from 1995-2004 flashing an energized, cheeky brand of pop/rock.
“Spring” also encapsulates the yin-and-yang of Anderson’s songwriting style. “I heard the final mix and thought ‘this has to be the album closer.’ It has a bit of sunshine and hope, but it’s a bit of a dark tune as well. That pretty much sums up the whole album. It’s melodically happy on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper there’s a healthy dose of both sadness and vitriol.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find any vitriol in the easygoing nature that has made Anderson such a welcomed musical collaborator in his Los Angeles home base. Since moving from his native Toledo to LA in 1990, Anderson has performed and recorded with an array of local artists (including The Andersons!) and national acts (including tours with Dave Davies from 2002-2004), beloved as much for his vocal skills and teamwork as his stellar bass playing.
Now, he finally gets a chance to share the entire range of his talents in his debut, full-length album. With the help of the great friends in his extended musical “orbit,” Anderson invites you to extend your landing gear, scan the horizon and explore “A World of My Own.”