Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Nerves- One Way Ticket

Got a hormonally explosive, just post-adolescent relative on your gift list who still thinks Fall Out Boy is power pop? Well, set him straight with a combo history lesson/girl obsession classic. For aficionados of first-era power pop (roughly 1977-82), the 4-song 7″ The Nerves EP this Cali combo released in 1977 is not just a bristling batch of perfect, punk-prodded pop, but a viable argument stopper for where the genre began. Plus, all three members went on to create more influential pop gold (in collector desirability if not actual sales). Singer/bassist Peter Case had the most success with the ‘80s band, the Plimsouls; drummer Paul Collins formed the Beat, releasing a few super slabs (and are back with a new record on Get Hip); and singer/guitarist Jack Lee’s career petered out the quickest with some personal problems that are barely hidden in his sparkly gems. Lee wrote “Hanging On The Telephone” (later a hit for Blondie), featuring the closing, repeated plea of “Hang up and run to me,” that is one of the most purely heart-wrenching codas of that era. That EP is all here, Rickenbackers ringing and scruff harmonies yearning clearer than ever. While those songs and some of the other demos and live tracks on this 20-track compilation have appeared over the years in various quasi-legit versions, usually on small European labels (you wouldn’t believe what a star Case is in Orleans, France), this is the first official release of all the Nerves and immediately post-Nerves related material, with liner notes from Case no less—in other words, the holy moley grail for power pop fans. Had they the cash to make that first EP an album—adding in the sugar rush of “Walking Out On Love” and “Letter To G,” or the mood-piece pound, “Are You Famous”—the Nerves might’ve supplanted the Knack and saved power pop from its cheeky legacy. Standard motifs of skinny ties and “The” band names have reduced the era to a fad; and the genre phrase is flung around so much today it’s become an enervated catch-all for anything vaguely upbeat with vintage guitars played by earnest 20-somethings. Well forget that and grab this One Way Ticket to a time when a band could rankle fellow too-tough punk scensters by simply covering the Beatles. – Eric Davidson / CMJ


No comments:

Post a Comment