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Rock as extravaganza

By David Vaughn

Self-released: 2007

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This review first appeared in the May 17, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

In a day of sanitized entertainment, when Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are somehow considered "dangerous" or at least bad girls, how refreshing it is to discover San Diego's David Vaughn. Striking a balance between the naughty fun of the glam rock of Kiss or the New York Dolls and the bad-boy attitude of early Rolling Stones or Thin Lizzy, Vaughn's music on his new CD is the kind of over-the-top stadium-sized extravaganza that made '70s rock so much fun.

Vaughn pulls it off so well because he's absolutely not embarrassed by the posing and the cheesiness – instead, like a young David Lee Roth, Freddy Mercury, Ben Harper or Macy Gray, he revels in the excess, embraces the theatrical side of what rock music used to be. Vaughn's songs (he wrote or co-wrote all eight) combine the kind of melodic but chunky pop nuggets T Rex specialized in with his self-aware showmanship as singer. Straight-ahead classic rock with elements of alt rock, soul and funk, the music here is purely about providing entertainment.

"You & Me" is the best of the eight tracks. It's anchored by a soaring anthemic theme – listening to it, you can picture Vaughn on a full-size stage prancing about like Roth, Mick Jagger or David Bowie, fireworks going off behind the stage, costume changes between sets.

See, that's the thing about Vaughn: He clearly recognizes that rock and soul have always been as much about the performance and visuals as the music. And on this album, he provides full value in both music and theatricality.