Train can't slow down, rolls into town

By John Benson

Year after year, Train keeps a-rolling.

The pop-rock band with adult-contemporary tendencies continues to rack up popular albums and hit singles based on the catchy songwriting of tunes such as recent radio favorites “Drive By,” “50 Ways to Survive,” “Mermaids” and current single “Bruises.” The songs are from the band’s latest, 2012’s “California 37.”

The outfit later milked the album’s success with a deluxe version featuring three additional studio recordings — “Futon,” “To Be Loved” and a cover version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” — along with three live tracks.

Naturally, you’d expect Train guitarist Jimmy Stafford to justify the extended- album release — which some may view as a money grab — as something special the band did for its fans. However, even he admits its timing right around the band’s summer tour is suspicious.

“In my opinion, it’s kind of funny,” Stafford said. “I hate when bands do that. Like if you’re a fan of the band, you go out and buy their current album when it first comes out and then months later, after they’ve had a few hits on the album, they release the deluxe version that you wish you could have just gotten the first time. Usually when that happens, I’ll just go download the extra tracks instead of buying the whole album again. It seems just like a sales ploy to me but it is cool to do some extra tracks.”

If you buy Stafford’s honesty, then you’ll probably want to hear the bonus track “Futon,” which he said is a favorite despite the fact it was kept off “California 37.” The mid-tempo song calls to mind The Cars, he said.

“Futon” and the Lennon cover, which was recorded with an all-boys choir from Nashville, could be played at Sunday’s Train concert at the Canfield Fair. Naturally the set list will feature all of the band’s hits, including “Drops of Jupiter,” “Calling All Angels” and the ubiquitous “Hey, Soul Sister.”

Speaking of the latter from 2009 album “Save Me, San Francisco,” there was a question whether the Grammy Award-winning band would be able to match that monster hit with the follow-up album “California 37.” That answer came pretty early on as the CD’s lead single “Drive By” was a top-5 hit around the globe.

“We’d been touring [“Save Me, San Francisco”] for almost three years nonstop, and we really kind of wanted to take some time off before we released another album, but Pat [Monahan] wrote ‘Drive By’ and management said we have to get that out there,” Stafford said. “And as soon as we released it, the song became a hit on radio and all of a sudden we were back in the studio making an album and right back on the road touring. We never stopped.”

Stafford hopes to take a break later this year. Still, he admits there’s a rumor Monahan is writing again and, well, that could lead the band into the studio or on the road sooner than expected.

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