Thursday, February 13, 2003
Regarded by local historians as the very first South Bay (from whence Redd Kross, the Descendants and Black Flag sprung forth) punk band, the actual recorded material is as far from punk rock as Mini-Me is from playing center in the NBA. As XTC once put it so succinctly, "this is pop".
Jangling away at mid-speed, accelerating to moderate in the wake of the Ramones, decorating everything with Beau Brummels/Buffalo Springfield harmonies and topping it off with electric 12-string, the Last-the brothers Nolte, three of them-were as close to being SoCal''s Flamin'' Groovies as they were to anything else. Sure, they added a little Clash-style social realism in "Bombin of London" and "Walk Like Me", but the end result is: this is sweet and sticky stuff.
But far above the average. If the poopy pop of today leaves a rancid after-taste, these determined fans of the 1960s were not only sincere, they were capable and wrote snazzy little tributes to a simpler time. And 24 years after the fact (This disc was originally released in 1979), it''s still a keeper.
Love Songs | Epic, Legacy
The greatest country singer of all time belting out what he does best, the tear-jerking long song, right? Not quite. While it''s true that this master phraser has probably induced an ocean of tears wept into endless bottles from countless jukeboxes, he''s also such a phenom that to narrow his range down to the homey and sentimental is doing him a grave disservice.
In fact, a collection of "George Jones'' Heartbreak Moments" would have been a better bet. When forced into the role of seducer/crooner, the Ole Possum isn''t nearly as convincing as he is the cuckolded victim or bamboozled love-struck fool. Not to mention the absolute king of the dissolute-there is nary a moment of Jones'' greatest strength here at all, honky tonkin''.
Not to say the disc isn''t a peach, pretty much anything he wraps his larynx around is prime stuff, especially "A Picture of Me (Without You)" (reputed to be the actual inspiration of John Lennon''s "Imagine"). And that "I Always Get Lucky With You" isn''t a standard along the same altitude as, say "For the Good Times" is a crying shame. But there are so many other Jones collections to pick from, this one is second tier at best. Get his Epic boxed set, and cry yourself a river.
Men at Work
Business as Usual | Columbia Legacy
Every so often a band like this one comes along-moderately quirky, jingle-ish songs, slyly humorous bordering on buffoonish, photogenic in videos. The Presidents of the United States of America were the ''90s version, the Knack, the ''70s. Men At Work could be considered, therefore, a kind of "missing link", cute radio fare-wise.
An Australian bar-band that crossed the tick-tocky guitar sound of the Cars with the psuedo reggae of the Police, they ruled 1982 and 1983 ironhandedly. This reissue recaps Colin Hay''s tightly-strung, neurotic bleat over the band''s taut, slick chassis and fires up those old synapses for anyone that was drawing breath in that era.
It''s aged fairly well (not unlike the Cars or Police). The three radio hits are useful; the filler, especially "Helpless Automaton," revelatory; the B-sides added on to the end of the disc typically pointless, especially the live "Who Can It Be Now?" Decried as skinny-tie pabulum in its time by underground snobs, this Men At Work debut recap is a chuckle and a half in this dark age indeed.