LONG HARD NIGHTS - The Deadbeats (Bootleg Booze Records)
The hard rock revival that's still sweeping the minds of mid to large record company A&R divisions continues to focus on the power riff, tatts and smokes in the t-shirt sleeve, Ted-Nugent-Acca Dacca-Rosie Tatts aspect of '70s rock. That's all well and good (if done with the requisite degree of irony), but there more to the world of long haired power rock than, well, power rock and long hair. The Deadbeats have successfully seized on another, more subtle, aspect of the '70s thing, namely, the cool, relaxed slacker rock aesthetic.
The opening track ("State of Shock") – fueled by dominating riff that's simultaneously laconic and engaging – would fit comfortably onto Side 4 of Kiss' "Alive II" (the studio side of which, including a cover of the Dave Clark 5's "Anyway You Want It", was recorded without Ace 'cause The Spaceman was too tired and emotional to remember where the band was supposed to be recording).
In fact, the whole album gave me the same appropriately reverential nostalgic feeling that the quite amusing (if intentionally juvenile) Detroit Rock City tribute to Kiss' 1970s popularity. There's plenty of chunky guitar (witness the meat and three veg satisfaction of "Mr Brokenhearted"), the riffs keep spinning out with the consistency of a Tim Rogers-Angust Young factory line assembly. The vocals reminded me a lot of Steve Miller (that's "Abbacadabra", not the guy from The Moodists) but unlike Steve Miller, I never once felt compelled to throttle my stereo to stop the insipid noise.
"Putting Out My Fire" is a slower, but more concentrated, the riffs more staccato and possibly a bit spicier, while "Dead Dog Serious" is straight off a 1978 FM Top 40 list with a guitar feel that's similar to Clapton at the crossroads between legendary white bluesman and cleaned up movie soundtrack author. "Can't Get Up" is an oximoron if ever I've heard one, 'cause if you can't get on your feet after this one, you must be bolted to the floor.
The rest of the album just stays happily in the groove, a simple but structured layering of the essential elements of honest rock'n'roll. The concluding (title) track is a sleeper that evolves from a generic rock intro into a rousing call to arms that The Casanovas would be proud to call its (their?) own.
This album is undeniably consistent and solid. While it doesn't take rock to new heights, the plateau it reaches is rich in musical enjoyment. Why bother searching for anything else when the grass straight in front of you is quite green enough, thank you very much. - Patrick Emery
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