After scoring a huge hit with their debut album, Talk is Cheap and perhaps leading to the re-formation of The Rolling Stones a year later. The X-Pensive Winos pushed on with a live album in 1991 and then their second studio album, Main Offender in 1992. A solid album that was considerably more diverse than its predecessor.
After listening to Main Offender, it is interesting to hear how much the band have developed their style between their first and second album. Talk Is Cheap wasn’t exactly a straight up rock record. It featured a subtle nod to reggae, a bit of funk and a little jazz here and there. But its follow up takes those subtle nods and makes turns them into fully fledged songs. It is a daring move, one that is either going to be a great thing for the listener or will put them right off.
The album opens up with a heavy guitar tone and blasts its way into a couple of borderline AC/DC style rockers. They then pump out a lengthy near seven minute long reggae track Words of Wonder. I could understand if veteran rock listeners don’t like this song. It has a slow tempo and features an odd off beat drum groove that will probably drive fans of Charlie Watts’ lazy drumming mad. After this track there are some more rockers of variable quality. They are perfectly enjoyable but climax on the slow ballad, Demon. This track is most notable (at least to me) for the tasty lead guitar playing throughout the song. The playing has a nice tone, sounds very soft and adds a nice jazzy feel to the song. It is definitely a great way to round off the record.
The overall sound quality of the record is just as professional and charming as its predecessor. It manages to maintain the “live in studio” sound that most rock bands desire whilst still sounding like a big budget album recorded in a professional recording studio. It is a great sounding album and will stay that way for as long as it is in circulation.
Main Offender is mostly more of the same to a point. The band have found a sound that works for them and stuck with it. The added variety through out the record just makes it a bit more interesting. Sadly, this was the last record to feature the X-Pensive Winos with Keith Richards joining The Rolling Stones on endless tours (and only releasing a handful of albums). It is a shame really. There is a lot of potential here and it is a shame that the band never capitalised on their two albums. It is a worthy rock album for your collection, especially if you already have their first album.