Given its echo-bathed vocal wailing, its thumping electronic beats, its noisy barrages of guitar and keyboards, and the way it stretches between primal rock and free jazz, Solo Loco Redux fits so comfortably into today’s musical landscape, you’d hardly believe it was first released in 1981. In that sense, the reissue is a tribute to this veteran Boston rocker’s artistic grasp, not only as a musician but as a lyricist. His dirty Beat poetry transforms Harvard Yard into a dark netherworld in the driving "So Tight"; "Hit and Run" plays games with love and violence to a vibe that’s equal parts David Lynch and Desi Arnaz.
And if the mark of a great performer is how well he transforms standards into personal and true essays, then Alexander scores well with two classics. There’s a bizarre, mostly a cappella "Tennessee Waltz" that sends up the straitjacketed forms of ’50s pop with its mewling voices. And his take on Gene Vincent’s "Be-Bop-A-Lula" deconstructs into sexy, swaggering vocal posturing and a collapsing wall of sound — which may simply be the messy primal essence of rock and roll. The CD ends, however, on a totally sincere note: "Lux," a cool high-test solo workout, is Alexander’s lovingly pounded nod to the great old boogie-woogie-piano pioneer Meade Lux Lewis.