EVOLVER - The Thanes (Rev-Ola)
For some of us who were there, the ’80s garage revival is somewhat like one of those TV shows you loved as a kid but found meaningless as an adult. Sure it all sounded great at the time, but it also didn’t exactly have stiff competition in such tripe as Tears for Fears and Def Leppard.
But ah, the memories: Watching bands decked out in authentic threads playing authentic ’60s equipment, the paisleys, the psychedelic lettering on the covers, and the hope that somehow, some way, the unlistenable dreck being piped out of the radio like so much industrial waste would burn up faster than the Space Shuttle did in 1986. Unfortunately, in retrospect the mostly weak songwriting, second-rate ’60s covers, and other contrivances are more analogous to the post-gig, morning-after hangovers.
And then there are the Thanes, Scots who could write originals to match their fine covers, and who focused more on the music and overall sound than on adherence to iconography. They may not have had the commonly accepted “caveman” look and bowl haircuts of so many contemporaries, but they made some excellent music -- as documented on this 27-song compilation covering 1987 through 2001.
The Thanes generally play melodic, organ-driven rock (though never at the expense of the guitar), as best illustrated on originals like “Girls,” “That’s the Story of Your Life,” “Before I Go,” and “Days Go Slowly By.” But they can also handle more driving stuff, including darker originals such as “It Can Never Be” and “Thrown Away the Key,” plus a cover of the pre-fame Guess Who’s “It’s My Pride.”
In a reversal of the typical garage revival band trend, it’s ironically one of but five covers on here, a previously unreleased version of the Kinks’ “Who’ll Be the Next in Line,” that provides the only weak moment. Otherwise, "Evolver" is one of the few ways to relive the ’80s garage revival and still feel good about it. And the story isn’t over yet. -Doug Sheppard
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