Monday, August 16, 2004

Tom Graves' Reviews from Rock & Roll Disc 06/'91

The La’s
The La’s Go! London 828 202-2

From Rock & Roll Disc magazine June, 1991

Right out of the box The La’s had me hooked like a red snapper. All my complaints of yore about the bored soul at the heart of so much of today’s college/alternative scene evaporated when the disc’s first track “Son of a Gun” came ringing out of my speakers like it had every right to be there. Imagine, if you will, the pop songcraft and catchiness of an early Bang period Neil Diamond grafted onto the swagger and spit of the Clash’s Combat Rock – that’s The La’s in a nutshell. Track after track, cut after cut, I sat in mute disbelief at the polish, talent, and songwriting smarts I was hearing from this heretofore unknown Liverpool group.

But is there real musical substance beneath the gloss, the jangles, the hooks, and Steve Lillywhite’s surehanded production? Let me put it this way: “Way Out” matches nearly any Who acoustic number bar for bar, “Freedom Song” is as good as any Muswell Hillbillies-era Kinks song, and the lyrics sink a pipeline of mental images into your head. Now you tell me, does that sound like a band worth hearing?

The La’s isn’t perfect – what album really is? “There She Goes,” the college chart hit pulled for the video now on rotation on MTV, while a choice song, isn’t the best track here. And the 7:52 “Looking Glass” meanders. But when every other song is short, in sharp focus, and tempered as true as tungsten steel, how can I fault them?

It’s impossible to predict success (for all I know The La’s may suck live), but if this were the Kentucky Derby, I know where I’d place my bet. In short, The La’s is the best album R.E.M. will never make.

--Tom Graves

Wishbone Ash

From Rock & Roll Disc magazine June, 1991

Ever wonder who the real model was for Spinal Tap? Wonder no more.

--Tom Graves

The Five Americans
Western Union

Sundazed SC 11004

From Rock & Roll Disc magazine June, 1991

The band that did “Western Union, nah-nah-nah-nah-nah,” is actually pretty good-ga-good-ga-good.

--Tom Graves


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