The Bongos: Phantom Train

Jeff Tamarkin on February 6, 2014

Hoboken, N.J.’s The Bongos were one of the certified monster power-pop bands of the ‘80s—masters of the jangly riff and the memorable melody. Phantom Train was a work in-progress when they disbanded in 1985, now resurrected via JEM Records, which recently came back from the void itself. Recorded in several studios and produced by the band with help from E.T. Thorngren and others, it’s consistent with the band’s earlier releases, if somewhat slicker and less airy and idiosyncratic. Lead vocalist Richard Barone was always a writer with a knack for the instant grabber and tunes such as
“My Wildest Dreams” (which opens the set and then closes it in demo form), the title track (co-penned by guitarist James Mastro) and the dancefloor-ready “One Bold Stroke” are keepers. The lone cover, “Sunshine Superman,” takes on a pounding beat that originator Donovan never could have dreamed of.

Artist: The Bongos
Album: Phantom Train
Label: JEM