Tag Archives: The Jam

Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #1

(No TGIF today as we conclude the 2010 countdown…)

When all is said and done, rock’n’roll is supposed to be a release, whether that’s from the pulsating rhythm of the music, the depth of the lyrical message or the sheer enjoyment of playing the damned thing loud. It’s hard enough to compare the apples and oranges of music, but when I was finalizing the list I asked myself… which album brought me the most pleasure? Which did I play the most often? Which did I look forward to playing, even if I had heard it thirty times?

And so I give you Pictures from The Len Price 3.

Video: “Mr. Grey

Recalling the great kinetic music of  The Kinks, The Creation, The Small Faces and the early Who, the trio blends in irresistible pop vocals (think Sire-era Searchers or The Records) and punk energy (The Jam and The Clash being obvious influences). The result is a baker’s dozen of explosive three-minute singles; kudos to the production of Graham Day (The Prisoners, Graham Day and the Gaolers).

The album launches itself with the title track (led by Keith Moon drum fills) and follows that jab with the right cross of the celebretard anthem “Keep Your Eyes On Me“, one of 2010’s absolute classics.

Free Download (while it lasts!): “Keep Your Eyes On Me

By the time I got to the third track, “I Don’t Believe You” I already knew I was gobsmacked…and then it just got better. Music like this is the epitome of what the Underground Garage is going for, so it’s no wonder that Little Steven signed these guys onto his Wicked Cool label. I really liked their first two albums Rentacrowd and Chinese Burn, but Pictures is a leap forward even from those. I had it pegged as a best-of contender when it came out in January, and sure enough,  it held off all comers to finish as the best album of 2010.

Listen to clips at Amazon

Video: “I Don’t Believe You

Len Price 3 on MySpace

The Prisoners heritage is clear

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Meet The Beatles, Sorta

Time once again to pay homage to Angelo over at Power Pop Criminals, whose mixtapes (will someone please come up for a less cumbersome word for mix disc?) are always first-rate works of art. And that includes the art, by the way – original work always created with affection, humor and great skill.

Over the past couple of years I’ve tipped you to many of his powerpop anthologies, Beatle album tributes and collections of tribute songs. This weekend I’m recommending you check out two of his more eclectic tributes, starting with Meet The Beatlesque. We’ve all heard bands and songs that make you think of The Fab Four; pretty much any pop band around has some Beatle DNA in their bloodstream.

So where many bands cover Beatle songs outright, here we are talking about bands who are channeling their influence or building off their foundation. Angelo describes the selections as those “who have had a Beatlesque moment, whether consciously or not. Beatlesque means bearing a definite resemblance, often to a specific Beatle song. To be truly Beatlesque,a record must wear that influence openly.”

So who does that? Hmm…how about The Raspberries, Utopia, The Rutles, Marshall Crenshaw, The Smithereens, ELO, 20-20 and The Flamin’ Groovies? That’s only a small sampling…from Disc One! Disc Two features Badfinger, Klaatu, Matthew Sweet, Cheap Trick, Emitt Rhodes, The Gurus, The Jamfifty tracks of fab between the two discs!

So click here to visit PPC and download this great collection. Enjoy!

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New Album! Deadbeat Poets


If I hadn’t already been familiar with how good The Deadbeat Poets are, I’m not certain that kicking off an album with a song title like “Elvin Dabney, Professional Thief” would have hooked me. Not that “The Postmodern Razor Wire Showdown” would have drawn me in either. So don’t let that dissuade you, either – Circus Town is another great release on the heels of Notes From The Underground.

I often think of different artists when I listen to their music, but not in a copycat way. Hell, my first exposure to them still knocks my socks off; “The Truth About Flying Saucers” sounds like Warren Zevon fronting The Del Lords after three rounds of Red Bull. (Full version on their MySpace page – link at bottom)

 “People These Days” takes The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and flips it on its head; “At Least It Worked Out For You” is fiery and rambunctious, like The Wildhearts or vintage Stiff Records acts. “The Staircase Stomp” might recall The Jam or The Motors. There’s a wealth of sharp hooks and snappy choruses – this is meant to be played loud and sung along to.

Of course, with band members having tenures in bands as widespread as Blue Ash and Stiv Bators, one would expect a myriad of influences to creep in. “Sunglass City” sounds like a song The Beatles might have covered during their Cavern Club era, or perhaps an obscure Kinks b-side. Jangly twelve-string guitars add a Byrdsian essence to “I Thought I Knew You”, which (like “Madras Man”) could pass as easily as a late 70’s Searchers cut as it could a contemporary country-pop tune.

It rocks, it swings, and it’s funny, and hitting the replay button is a no-brainer. Sure, it starts out like gangbusters and eases to a slower finish, but so does my car and my metabolism. And if that’s the only nit you have to pick, I have two words for you: shuffle play.

One of my favorites of 2010 so far. Go get it!

The Deadbeat Poets on MySpace

Pop Detective Records site

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New Album! Len Price 3

 

I direct you again to Bucketfull of Brains, a superior publication I am proud to have been associated with for over a decade. This review, written in January, is available in the current issue which hit the stands in early March… 

There is no “Len Price“, of course; this Medway trio is composed of Glenn Page on guitar and vocals, Steve Huggins on bass, and drummer Neil Fromow. But perhaps a better way to phrase it would be that the band is composed of The Who, The Kinks and The Jam. Because if any of those three bands make the hair on your…well, hairy areas stand up, this is the band for you. If two or more of those bands make you strap on an air guitar, I may have your new favorite record in my hands. 

Fromow counts off the opening track (the title song) by clicking his drumsticks before launching into Keith Moon mania, with Huggins right on his tail like a hyperactive Bruce Foxton. You can almost see Page windmilling his guitar in his best Townsend pose, dripping Medway accent into the microphone with the energy of a teenager. And that’s how it goes on this thirteen-song, thirty-minute workout – one great song after another. Stripped down, short sharp and pop, echoing the greats but not mimicking them. 

The Prisoners heritage is clear

Touchstones abound – “I Don’t Believe You” is the son of “She’s Got Everything”, and “Keep Your Eyes on Me” is cut from the cloth of The Who Sell Out. The infectious “After You’re Gone” will remind one of “So Sad About Us”, and even the title of “Mr. Grey” sounds like a Paul Weller tribute (albeit with a flourish of horns straight out of “Penny Lane”). This album has it all – ringing guitars, great vocals, and catchy songs fueled by power chords and muscular drumming. It reminded me of recent favorites by Muck and the Mires and Graham Day and the Gaolers – and sure enough, Graham Day was one of the producers on this record. 

This is the third album from The Len Price 3, and while the other two were very good, Pictures is flat-out brilliant;  the first great record of the year and a lock for my Best Of 2010 list. Get it now.  

Robin Williams' Emmy via David Mills' words

And another sad loss…writer David Mills died yesterday from a brain aneurysm. Mills wrote for some of my favorite television shows – NYPD Blue, The Wire, Homicide – as well as helming The Corner and collaborating with David Simon on the upcoming Treme for HBO. He was only 48 years old. 

“What I can bring is the sort of simple story stuff, the stuff I would feel like I can contribute to any show I happen to be on at any given time, which is just, ‘How do we get the most out of these characters.” 

Here’s a nice tribute from friend and TV critic Alan Sepinwall

And another from NOLA.

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Under The Radar: The Lieutenants

Lieutenants EP

Do you miss The Jam? Do you pine for a band that blends English soul, workingman punk and a dash of pub laced power pop? A streetwise sense of purpose reminiscent of The Clash, but not at the expense of the melody? Then you should check out The Lieutenants.

Guitarist and lead singer Adrian Symcox penned the six tracks on their eponymous EP, and if his vocal on the leadoff track “Burning the Backwoods” doesn’t make you think of Paul Weller, I guarantee you the fluid basslines of Tom Branch will evoke fond memories of Bruce Foxton. Branch is all over the neck like a snake, and his dominant pulse is the backbone of the band’s thick urban sound. You might be thinking U.K. like I did, but the band is based in Los Angeles. Looks like a personnel change has taken place; Jason LaRocca and Joey LaRocca of The Briggs played on the EP but Phil Robles (guitar) and Jordan Bryant (drums) are listed as band members on the website.

As one might surmise from song titles like “Down At The Revolution” and “The Church of Lesser Saints”, the songs rip against commercialism, apathy and the mind-numbing after-effects of trying to fit in where you don’t belong. The lyrical power is supported by the tension in the music, a quality that is consistent no matter what the pace of the song. But the musical highlight is undoubtedly the closer, “Keep On Moving”, a mash-up between anthemic BritPunk and the propulsion of a Stax or Motown track (the underlying rhythm is a direct descendant of “I Can’t Turn You Loose”).

I’m not saying this is a brilliant release, but there’s a lot to like here. Having heard an earlier version of some of the tracks, I think the band is moving in a good direction. I’m anxious to hear their full statement, but for now this very reasonably priced EP is available at their website and vendors like CD Baby.

The Lieutenants website

The Lieutenants on MySpace

Promo video of “Cemetery Life”

The Lieutenants

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Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs

 

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

“If I were in a band and had to follow these guys onstage, I’d demand to have the room hosed out and a fresh audience brought in. Nuff said.”

 

First of all, that name…The Montgomery Cliffs. How cool is that? When I reviewed Andiamo, the Cliffs’ debut album – my #1 Record of 1997, by the way – I proclaimed it “a low-budget, high voltage masterpiece” and I wouldn’t take back a syllable of that today. If anything, my opinion has been validated by the passage of time.  Produced by the great Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) and released on the small RPM label, this three piece NYC band understood that The Who were both power and pop, and having a a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Joey’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) or Elvis Costello (Ol’ Declan would be smart to cover “If I Were You”), and the songs on Andiamo aren’t far off from the early records by either.

But more importantly, the band and album were pure unadulterated impact. We’ve all been knocked sideways by a great band when we weren’t expecting it…meeting someone at a bar, arriving early for a concert and not knowing the opener, and then… POW…floored! When recapping 1997’s best later that year I added “The Cliffs  parlay the guitar-bass-drum formula into something much greater. Great songs, whip-crack musicianship and a sense of humor that rocks your world and still makes you think. And the best part? They’re better live. This disc kept getting back in the player all year long, and how better to measure your favorite?”

They were better live. They were amazing live. When I saw them at Fletcher’s in Baltimore later that year, I was absolutely gobsmacked and wrote this. (And yes, I know Patsy Cline didn’t write “Crazy”…) It wasn’t just Salvia’s charisma, although the guy had buckets of it; Wayne Thomas Kurz was the only guitar player but sounded like two, and Dennis Carollo mastered the art of propulsion without ego. Truly a power trio.

Joey Salvia might now be better known to some NYC area fans from his work on The Michael Kay Show (along with various appearances on FOX Sports and ESPN).  Salvia engineers and helps produce the show as well as singing songs for guests, wreaking sonic havoc and bantering with the host. He also wrote the theme song and the other original/parody tunes you hear each day. Salvia continues to record under his own name; his latest album Long Lost Weekend features a song that Bostonians will surely hate…”Derek Jeter“. (And to Dennis and Wayne, wherever you are…isn’t it about time for a reunion??)

Maybe this video was recorded for ten dollars, who knows…but I think you’ll get the point.

The Montgomery Cliff’s MySpace page. “Wednesday Girl”  rules.

CD Baby features several Cliffs and Salvia titles here… I also highly recommend the self-titled Cliffs record.

***

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Under The Radar: The Strays

 

I...am a little thin soldier...

I...am a little thin soldier...

There are a million bands called “The (Somethings)” so the odds that an appropriate name would still be available after all this time should be slim. But here’s a trio of guys assembled from afar – a Brit, a Yank and a Greek – so the moniker kind of fits. And when you consider that the singers dad is on anyone’s shortlist of greatest white soul singers ever, well…alrighty then. And there was always something of the street urchin stray dog in Steve Marriott, wasn’t there?

Toby Marriott has the legendary name but is wisely cutting his own path; The Strays are far more reminiscent of bands like The Clash, The Jam and Jamaican reggae, where dad Steve mined pop, music hall and blues for his amazing run. I even heard someone call them “The Killers, but with bigger balls“, and that’s not half bad either. Their excellent 2006 debut on TVT Records really got me excited; I started to think that this DNA/genetics thing might have some merit after all.

But I always figured a young band faced with relentless touring would almost have to kick out another album by now, right? Umm…you didn’t implode on me, did ya lads? Is this it? Is the future…noir?

 
How's yer Bert's lumbego?

How's yer Bert's lumbego?

 

The Strays: Le Futur Noir

Although Toby Marriott’s dad is arguably the finest rock voice the UK has ever spawned, The Strays owe a far bigger debt to The Clash than The Small Faces or Humble Pie. As lead vocalist and guitarist, Marriott leads a trio that is rhythmic and urgent, a rougher sounding Oasis whose music bleeds Jamaican ska alongside classic rock and 1977 punk, an engaging and consistently satisfying mix. Make no mistake, The Strays rock; “Servant Of The Gun” turns Nirvana on its ear.

Yet right alongside political anthems like “Block Alarm” and “Start A Riot”, The Strays will slide in a pitch-perfect pop single like “This Is Forever”, somehow blending The Jam and Gene Loves Jezebel into one song. (Not a lark – the hidden bonus track is a Lords of the New Church cover!) The album graphics and song titles will probably scare the beejezus out of most people, but underneath it all is the genesis of a band wise beyond their years. Steve would approve, lad.

(this review originally ran in Pop Culture Press)

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