As soon as REO Speedwagon
's second album -- aptly titled T.W.O.
-- kicks off with "Let Me Ride," it's clear that the band has made some significant strides in gaining a personality. Part of this is due to singer Terry Luttrell
being swapped out for Kevin Cronin
, whose keening tenor is markedly different from Luttrell
's bluesy gargle, and part is due to three of the songs, dramatic multi-sectioned rockers, being more distinguished than the pedestrian boogie of the debut. That boogie hasn't been abandoned -- the group takes the swing out of Chuck Berry
's "Little Queenie," which brings it closer to the anonymous thud that characterizes Gary Richrath
's "Flash Tan Queen," along with much of the rest of the album. Although REO
don't always succeed when opening up their music -- "Being Kind (Can Hurt Someone Sometimes)" winds up getting stuck in the murk -- Cronin
's two side-openers of "Let Me Ride" and "Music Man" point the way toward the group's classic sound.