Music » Critics' Picks

.38 Special

Thursday, May 18, at 7 and 9 p.m. Bottleneck Blues Bar at Ameristar Casino (1260 South Main Street, St. Charles)

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During the Great Southern Rock Scare of the early '80s, .38 Special was as ubiquitous as bandanas and Jack Daniel's, though their wild-eyed Southern boyishness and sleazy record jackets — oh, the fun designers had with guns and hotpants — belied their FM professionalism. They had more hooks than boogies, more crisp guitar crunch than rebel swagger and more skill with grease-burn rock clichés than most of their peers. They didn't invent the arena power ballad, but they set the gold standard with "Caught Up in You," which is only loathsome because KSHE looped it like a brainwashing tape. Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes (the two remaining members from the band's heyday) may be has-beens, but that's only because they've been somewhere. If they haven't earned the right to rock the oldies and biker circuits, no one has.

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