Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Len Price 3 - Pictures
Wicked Cool

'You don't do different if you live round here
The neighbours get restless and they think you're queer
You're gonna have to lump it, baby, if you live round here...
And I don't think that it's right
Beating up a stranger on a Saturday night...
You think you're better than the population
Don't get ideas so above your station
You're gonna have to lump it baby if you live round here...
And I don't think that it's right
Messing up your children for the rest of their life' - If You Live Round Here

Unless there's a happy coincidence somewhere so that South Eastern England has an incredibly tenuous link to the Deep South states and these Chatham chooglers guys had a PE teacher who went by the name of Len Price, it could be conjectured over afternoon brandy and cigar whilst taking a leisurely sojourn through the park, that they decided on said moniker for it's very everyman nature (this is ever big in Britain. Or bloody Britain would maybe be better. See, I surmise, and not stingily so either, I'll have you know, that it'd be hell of long odds for us to ever have a band called anything even crawling coweringly into an eighth of an inch, no, make that a centimetree, towards anywhere near the couch of a nomenclature like that of The Crank County Daredevils. Sure, Gaye Bykers / Lesbian Dopeheads are bang on and even Motorhead sort of light a match but anyway I better stop this little game, maybe hit delete lest I get carried away into competiton land. Aye, so generally we endlessly endure unfeasibly popular dross, usually with a one word name designed to be as bland as possible, thus highlighting the clenchingly clever concept that their music is conjured from a blank canvas. Hence Blur and Oasis. Ride. And, um, Moose. Kite? Hasn't anyone done that one yet? Guess Discharge don't fall into this category do they? Well, as it happens, clever arse...So, like, word up to 'em for giving him a full name).

Coincidentally or not and happily so or, I remember this lot playing a good few years ago up here in Mancytonstanley & since then this is now their third album and released on no no other label than Steve Van Zandt's, one must doff a fair play cap their way. While the above diatribe about their name doesn't mean they can clearly be denounced as playing run of the mill indie fare, neither does the hook up with the mini-Miami one mean it's all garage guns swinging a go go in unhinged hallways. English freak-beats without the psyched screaming outta gourds such that the Lords got remortgaged to the Commoners than what became Nuggets is in season here, though sprinkled with caustic soda-pops that dissolve strawberry fields (though not, alas, forever - but more of that later). It's so of it's time (by which we mean the mid-sixties but I'm sure you follow) it could have been done as some sort of doctorate. So, thankfully it's not a post-Strokes / White Stripes over-baked but self-consciously stripped down souffle of insipid blues but neither is it The Makers or The Sons Of Hercules gonzoid guerillas marauding through bandit country all beards and belts blazing. The all too usual roll call of influences that bore tears through your soul for their surely now insignificant ubiquity take precedence in a classic case of my usual bugbears The Who and The Beatles with a slight nibbles and welcome gnaws on Squeeze and fellow & fabled Chatham dweller Billy Childish's trees but they equally resemble a classic case of getting it all right, the concise, spartan-as-ration-era-Britain songs - thirteen in little over thirty minutes - rattled off with apt dexederity but how much of that can be construed as calculated is for you to peruse. Put it this way. Playing something and it reminding me of The Who or McCartney's magic thumb (opener Pictures is more than a replacement for Substitute) and not making me tear my throat out through my ears with my little toenail kinda closes that slightly ajar door. Where the odd scent of a blatant steal is never far away - I mean c'mon, using I Can't Explain / Substitute for the basis of two songs on a twenty minute album, and then Paperback Writer, and thennnn the descending little bass run from Waterloo Sunset is beyond a cheeky reference into the potting sheds marked lack of ideas. Which causes cries of shame on some decks as when they get rampantly and resplendently splenetic on Under The Thumb they make a mockery not a mark of complexity compared with banal Beatles-bum-fluff and slavish Davies dross like The Great Omani and Jack In The Greens. Buy some different fucking records with yer birthday money for god's sake (I always get befuddled about the point of still referencing such overly turfed-over toss but on the other hand you get some haughty mod crew askance mutual-wank glances that they're on the new list of arcane ass-scraping for that week, or evening, or identikit indie tykes with their post-ironic eighties fetishes).

However much they may summon Bernard Sumner doing his awful mincing hop/dance these little vignettes of smalltown England are well worth a listen, particularly the insightful, inciting and incisory account of smalltown intolerance to deviating from just about anything (learning what that word means, more than likely - sadly, 'anything' applies as much as the intended term) on If You Live Around Here (early blast of this year's classic), the tabloid-tart / everyday awful high-street sweetheart of Keep Your Eyes On Me ('She's got hair extensions and she's got orange skin') and suitably ironic tale of suburban drone on Mr Grey. When the acerbic lyrics try the bite but come out just brushing skin, like on You Tell Lies, at least the music sears your tonsils into your ribcage. Oh aye, it's alright for what it is and pretty damn fine and event-ridden at times, surely a masterstroke in two minutes. Thankfully more a less psychedelic Coral on frantic ditty-flits like The Girl Who Became A Machine than Oasis dredging doldrums. Though not too many boats or buses are pushed outta these harbours and Little Steven shoulda lumped for Liverpool's El Toro (as well) if he wanted a UK garage groove thang, this is worth more than the tepid waters treaded by The Black Keys and their ilk, smacking, as it does, of scotch and authenticity not the insincerity of copycats. Now ain't that a kiss-off, drear.
Stu Gibson

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