Wienerworld [Release date 27.01.14]
These are good times for Eddie & The Rods. So good in fact that it’s a startling 10 years since their 30th anniversary reformation, taking in 4 tours of the USA and a successful domestic tour with Quo.
The reformed band also cut a brace of career defining albums, notably the aptly titled ‘Better Late Than Never’, and the ironic ‘Been There Done That’ both of which provide the spine of this composite double studio/live CD, albeit it’s all captured on one disc.
Long regarded as a continuum between pub rock and punk, founder member Barrie Masters and his pals have always been a cranked up r&b band with decent song-writing pretensions.
And ‘2 Sides’ does a good job of fusing together their past and present, inevitably represented by ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ and 20 kick ass tracks that quickly blur the dividing line between studio and live.
Sure the ‘Live’ side is everything fans would want from a classic Southend r&b band, opening and closing as they do with two of their favourite covers – ‘Hard Drivin’ Man’ and the show stopping ‘Gloria’ – but their own back catalogue holds up impressively too.
Then there’s the essential drive of their generational anthem ‘Teenage Depression’, the declamatory rocker ‘Quit This Town’ and the powerhouse ‘I Might Be Lying’, which is a perfect summation of what the band are about.
The reason for inverting the album review is simply to bring attention to the band’s more recent output. The band’s current material is given a ‘live in the studio’ makeover and only a rather lightweight production robs them of the kind of sonic presence needed to underpin the catchy melodic hook of ‘Need Your Touch’, the impressive self-penned ‘Sympathy’ – all dual guitar lines and throbbing bass – and the amped up, drone like ‘Go Drive It’.
They further impress with Richard Hogarth’s ‘Why Should I Care’ with its opening Beatles guitar line and chopped riff intro, before a descending melody line into the hook.
After a glance over their shoulders to the 70’s on Ian Hunter’s ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’, they go the whole hog back to the 60’s garage rock with ‘High Society’, a Farfisa-led and gloriously shaped wall of sound that The Ramones would love to have written.
A combination of the pulverising rhythm section of Dipster on bass and drummer Simon Bowley , plus some screaming guitars spark Barrie Masters into one of his best performances on arguably the best produced track on the album.
Ultimately it’s the way the band recycle early r&b influences with punk like energy and rock &roll attitude that has given them a new vitality.
It’s all there in the last quarter of the album – as they generate an irresistible push and pull towards the perfect climactic finish. They seamlessly slip from the punk inflected ‘Life On the Line’ to the melodic majesty of ‘Power And the Glory’, through a ragged cover of The Kids Are Alright’ and into the raison d’etre of ‘Wooly Bully’, and the sing-along ‘Gloria’.
If you missed them the first or second time round, this is album great place to start. Dim the lights, crack open a six pack and idiot dance like its 1976, it’s what life’s really all about! ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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ELEKTRADRIVE Living 4 (2008)
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