Daily Archives: January 30, 2009

2008 Countdown: 6, 5, 4

The countdown of the Best Albums of 2008 continues…more of the top ten!

 

6. The Quireboys:  Homewreckers and Heartbreakers

Thankfully someone is waving The Faces flag and keeping the spirit alive, because God knows Rod Stewart isn’t going to do it. Spike and Guy Griffin have developed a strong songwriting partnership that evokes comparisons to Stewart/Wood; two men who think with one mind, play to each other’s strengths and create something as a unit superior to what they do on their own. The confidence they have developed over the past few years is manifested in a wider bandwidth of material than the sleaze/blues/rock formula that earner The (London) Quireboys their initial fame. That said, they can still bring it. “I Love This Dirty Town” is a gutbucket, fist-pumping rocker, and “Josephine” sounds like “Borstal Boys” after a syringe of Red Bull was jacked into its veins. “Louder”, as you’d anticipate from the title, is no slouch either.

But in “Mona Lisa Smiled”, the Quireboys have absolutely hit the bulls-eye, a mid-tempo classic that recalls the warmth and soul of the early Rod Stewart albums. Spike’s reading is pitch-perfect, and (as with “One For The Road” as well), the background of fiddles and keys bouncing off Griffin’s acoustic and Paul Guerin’s tasty slide is pure magic. Coupled with Spike’s raspy road tales, these more restrained efforts are a worthy descendant of the classic Pugh/Quittenton/Wood sound; studio sharp yet front porch casual. Kudos to Nick Mailing’s engineering and co-production (with Griffin), which allows equal attention to the band’s finesse as well as their power. “Late Night Saturday Call” is an introspective folksy blues, while the subtle shuffle “Take A Look At Yourself” should be in Van Morrison’s setlist at the very next opportunity.

But as much as I’m spotlighting the more mature Quireboys (did I actually use those two words in the same sentence?) they are still a kick-ass rock band; they’ve just gotten better and more versatile without giving an inch. I always hoped they were capable of raising the bar, but I wasn’t sure they were. With this, their finest effort, all my doubts are laid to rest.

 

5. Foxboro Hot Tubs:  Stop, Drop and Roll

Leave it to Billie Joe Armstrong to teach everyone else how to put aside the posturing and just make a fun rock’n’roll record. By now everyone knows that behind the faux album art and name, it’s just Green Day having a blast bashing out stripped down garage rock and pop rock. It’s as if they pilfered my box of 60s singles, then reanimated and reinvented new songs from the DNA. And any of these tracks, made with the same effervescent spirit as their forefathers, could be sandwiched alongside those Seeds and Raiders and Monkees singles without missing a beat. Drummer Tre Cool must have loved this project, as his closet Keith Moon side surfaces often, especially “27th Avenue Shuffle” (nicking The Who’s “Legal Matter”) and the title track. “Mother Mary” actually charted before people caught on, and why not? It’s “Lust For Life” filtered through “Don’t Get Me Wrong” (complete with James Honeyman-Scott guitar solo) sung by a sweeter sounding Morrissey. Sure, no chance of liking that, right?

Have fun playing “spot-the-influence” as you go careening through a dozen great singles. “Red Tide” is a Kinks song with Davy Jones on vocals; “She’s A Saint” sounds like the Sex Pistols’ take on “Summertime Blues”, but then adds handclaps and choruses of “ooohs” to morph into a classic powerpop track. “Alligator” owes its debt to “You Really Got Me” and fans of the The Yardbirds will do a double-take at “Dark Side Of The Night”. I can’t believe anyone put this record down as if Green Day was making some massive career mistake after American Idiot. To borrow the question from powerpop cult heroes Candy, “Whatever Happened To Fun”?

 

4. The Whigs:  Mission Control

This is the sound of a band finding its identity and going for broke, all the time knowing that there are no guarantees anyone will ever witness the trip. Not many albums start out with the urgency of “Like A Vibration”, a snarling, charging call-to-arms that sounds like equal parts Who and Replacements. Singer and guitarist Parker Gispert’s versatile voice is matched only by the wide variety of songs on the band’s sophomore album, and Tim Deaux’s very fluid bass lines make this trio sound a lot bigger than they really are. But with all due respect to them, it’s Julian Dorio who is the secret weapon on Mission Control. He plays drums like he has eight limbs and kicks even the moderate tempos in the ass.

“I Never Want To Go Home” echoes Snow Patrol at their peak, but “Sleep Sunshine” could be Radiohead with Frank Black at the controls, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of The Police when hearing “Production City”. Sure, their Athens roots will bleed through on occasion – “Hot Bed” is a dB’s/REM cross-fade and “Already Young” would fit on Monster (and probably be the best song on that record). But I’m willing to absorb that caveat when every song has a great melody or hook, sometimes both, and the textures are so varied and hypnotic that my attention never wavers. Maybe Rolling Stone got one right when they picked them as the best (then) unsigned band in America. If The Whigs can pull off the mania of “Need You Need You” and the hypnotic pulse of the title track live on stage, I’m there…especially to watch that guy behind the drum kit.

Tomorrow, the countdown of the Best Albums of 2008 continues…just three left to go!

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Reunion Fever Strikes Again

Thanks to my buddy Siege for this tip…Looks like one of the hardest working bands in rock’n’roll is getting back together again for at least one night; although depending upon the results, who knows what happens next? If it’s anything like the 1999 reunion (which the article below omits, but trust me, it rocked), it might snap the earbuds out of the wandering masses and show them what they missed out on with all those years of shoegazing.

I saw the J. Geils Band so often in the 70s that I thought there was a law stating they had to be the middle act at any concert held in the War Memorial. They never disappointed, and Peter Wolf (one of the greatest front men, ever) made it his personal mission to get the last person in the last row as involved as the maniacs being crushed into the front of the stage. Mosh pit? How about dance floor? If they’re opening a new venue you know it’s wired, so hopefully there will be a live CD/DVD to slot alongside Full HouseBlow Your Face Out and Showtime.

Long before they were MTV’s (temporary) darlings, they earned their stripes on stage.  Hell, they could even rock you in the morning!

First they looked at the purse...

First they looked at the purse...

(The Boston Globe, January 29, 2009) It’s safe to say that tickets to see the J. Geils Band on stage at the House of Blues Feb. 19 will be hard to come by. The show, which has been rumored for a while but was only nailed down yesterday, should be a suitable spectacle to open Live Nation’s new Lansdowne Street concert venue. Since breaking up in 1985, J. Geils has not made a habit of re-forming. In 2006, Peter Wolf, Seth Justman, Jay Geils, Magic Dick, Danny Klein, and Stephen Jo Bladd jammed at Klein’s 60th birthday party at Scullers, playing a short set that included “Homework,” “Looking for a Love,” and “Give It to Me.” The band, minus Bladd, also killed at an ’05 fund-raiser for the Cam Neely Foundation, playing revved-up versions of “Ain’t Nothin’ but a House Party,” “Must of Got Lost,” “Centerfold,” and “Love Stinks.” But the band’s been silent since, with Wolf concentrating on his solo career. (The singer’s latest CD is done and due out this year.) Promoter Don Law says he wasn’t sure how the enigmatic frontman would respond, but figured it was worth asking. “We made them an offer, sure, but it’s more than money,” said Law, reached yesterday in LA. “These guys love this kind of venue and are tied into the history of the blues. This just makes perfect sense.” The show will be officially announced in a few days, and then tickets – all 2,400 of them – will go on sale. “We’re thrilled Peter took this seriously,” said Law. “We’ve tried before without success.”

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Mott The Hoople update:

Due to exceptional public demand, Mott The Hoople has added a third night at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday, October 1st. Tickets will not go on sale to the general public on the Ticketmaster site until Monday February 2nd.

But you Mott fans are not the “general public”, are you? Hint…get to www.mottthehoople.com ASAP.

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