Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Backbeat Band

It is my opinion that a great many bands, even a great many great bands, peak very very early, in some cases, even before their first album. Pavement's Watery, Domestic, R.E.M.'s Chronic Town, the first Arcade Fire EP, Nirvana's Incesticide-era stuff, all represent those bands at their freshest and most idealistic, and in these cases, I'll take the blueprint of their future sound over the actual building of their eventual songs. At the risk of sounding one of those pretentious instigating hipsters who say such things just to provoke outrage, I think The Beatles peaked with “Twist and Shout.” You can have your Abbey Road and Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper but I prefer The Beatles at this stage of the game, when their brand of rock-n-roll was in its purest form. The soundtrack to Backbeat is representative of this ideal; when there was nothing more exciting and innocent as being in a garage band with your best friends. No drugs, no money, no fame, no ego. No pretensions of changing the world and no delusions behind the meaning of what you're doing; just rock-n-roll for nothing more than the sake and the spirit of rock-n-roll.

The 1994 album is a veritable supergroup of the era's alt-rock stars, with Greg Dulli, Dave Grohl, Mike Mills, Thurston Moore and Don Fleming (with Dave Pirner chipping in), covering some of the best rock-n-roll songs ever recorded before The Beatles came along and changed everything. Twelve tracks of the best singer in rock-n-roll with a dream team behind him throwing themselves with reckless abandon on “Twist and Shout,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Rock 'N Roll Music,” “Please Mr. Postman,” and eight more glorious tracks that capture the purity of rock-n-roll at its most primitive in the days of Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.

Over the past couple years, this has been my go-to album when I can't decide what I want to listen to or when I don't feel like paying the attention a more sophisticated record may deserve. Clocking in at just under a half-hour, this is perfect record to play when you don't want (or need) anything more than delirious instant-gratification. And I'm so disappointed in the audience who were lucky and privileged enough to see the band live. How the fuck can they just sit there?

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