Friday, December 30, 2022

Archive Review: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Southern Accents (1985)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Southern Accents
It can certainly be said that Springsteen’s commentary on the plight of the working class in last year’s Born In the U.S.A. not only made him a populist spokesman, but also appealed to a common denominator among several million record buyers. An observation could be made, though, that the mini-dramas presented on Born In the U.S.A., stories of America’s industrial decline, the deterioration of its cities, and the omnipresent Springsteen triad of cars, girls, and rock ‘n’ roll have their roots firmly placed in the factory atmosphere of the Northeast and Midwest.

This sets the stage for Southern Accents, Tom Petty’s Dixie born ‘n’ bred proclamation of Rebel pride. Petty is an artist whose style and influences are similar to those of Springsteen, so it should come as no surprise that Petty would develop a work such as Southern Accents. At its best, Southern Accents is adventurous, insightful, and reflective of the Southern experience. Petty takes more than a few risks, though, which makes this perhaps his most flawed work.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Southern Accents

One of the chances that Petty takes is in his unlikely paring with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics on three of the album’s nine cuts. Although Stewart proved that he held a fine grasp of pop stylings during his stint with the Tourists, you won’t find an inkling of this influence on these songs. Stewart’s presence as co-producer and songwriting partner seems to force Petty and the straight-rockin’ Heartbreakers into an unnatural mold. “It Ain’t Nothin’ To Me” is the first of these collaborative efforts. Although interesting, lyrically, the musical accompaniment is a confused, discordant mish-mash of blaring horns and misused instruments. Trying to emulate a Stax/Memphis feel on the song, Petty would have been better off asking Booker T for advice … this is easily the worst song that Petty has ever recorded.

“Don’t Come Around Here No More,” the initial single release and the second collaboration, is a much better song. Petty’s talents take over, with Stewart’s influence shading the performance only a bit (mostly with the unusual addition of a sitar, it would seem). The lyrics are sparse and tightly-edited, the music ethereal and Petty’s vocals brilliant. The third cut done with Stewart, “Make It Better (Forget About Me),” is mere filler … easily forgettable.

The strongest two songs on Southern Accents are the two Confederate anthems: “Rebels” and the title cut, “Southern Accents.” Petty illustrates that not everyone has forgotten (or forgiven) the insults paid on the South over a hundred years ago; certainly not the legion of fierce young men to whom fast driving and hard drinking help combat the day-to-day grind of deadening, hard-ankle jobs. Generations have been born with resentment burning in their blood, a fact easily recognizable to Florida-born Petty: “even before my father’s father, they called us rebels, while they burned our corn fields, and left our cities leveled, I can still feel the eyes of those blue-bellied devils, when I’m walking ‘round at night through the concrete and metal…”

Much of the South, now called the “Sun Belt,” has become the new playground of the rich. More and more, as modern day carpetbaggers try to remake the South in their image, from the “concrete and metal” down to the destruction of Southern culture, Petty’s pride in his heritage becomes a battle cry: “there’s a Southern accent, where I come from, the young ‘uns call it country, the Yankees call it dumb, I got my own way of talkin’, but everything is done with a Southern accent where I come from.”

Both cuts are powerful statements, echoes of a mindset shared by artists and the alienated in the rapidly-integrated (by Northerners) “New South.” The remainder of the LP’s material is solid, TP-brand rock, including “Spike,” a satirical poke at the nihilistic “punk” lifestyle and dress. Perhaps “Johnny Reb,” in his gray uniform and proudly-worn “stars ‘n’ bars” was really the original punk … the Civil War certainly did its part in creating an aura of angst and frustration south of the Mason-Dixon line, long before economically-bankrupt British youth rediscovered the feeling in ’76 and imported the trend to the states, casting millions of bored, upper-crust youth into a stylistic frenzy of strange hairdos and leather/chains/studs they bought with father’s Visa card. Daddy’s little boys and girls needed only to look into their own backyard to find the roots of this phenomenon.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Even with its flaws, Southern Accents is among one of the year’s best … Petty’s artistic experimentation and the strongly-worded feelings placed in these songs, though sometimes missing their mark, still represent the most ambitious attempt since the landmark works of Lynyrd Skynyrd in creating an identity and pride in Southern roots. (MCA Records, 1985)

Review originally published in the Summer 1985 issue of Anthem: The Journal of (un)Popular Culture
Buy the CD from Amazon: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Southern Accents

Anthem Jukebox: Klaus Flouride, The Joneses, Laibach, The London Quireboy, The Screamin' Sirens, Too Much Joy, Terminal City Ricochet (1990)

Klaus Flouride's Because I Say So
Klaus Flouride – Because I Say So (Alternative Tentacles Records)
Rattling like a funeral dirge and frequently as nerve-shattering as a slipped dentist’s drill, ex-Dead Kennedy Flouride travels lightly down the darkened path of his unique and original musical vision. Containing over a dozen musical/poetic vignettes, Because I Say So stands proud in an experimental field that only a few brave souls (Brian Eno, Boyd Rice, and Jon Hassel come to mind) fear to tread. Incorporating nightmarish tape loops, mutant pop songs, obtuse and symbolic lyrics, and an improvised musical mish-mash, Flouride has created a disc that is highly recommended.

The Joneses – Hard (Atlantic Records)
“Life is a hard road full of mean women who need a little love” says the insert to Hard, and those words of wisdom sum up the entire listening experience that is the Joneses’ current elpee. Seventies-styled hard rock is the rule here; meaty, muscular songs full of ringing, raging guitars propelled by David Finnerty’s gravely, soaring vocals. The Joneses burn like a nineties cross between Bad Company and B.T.O.

Laibach – MacBeth (Restless Records/Mute)
Laibach are one of the most underrated and underestimated outfits treading not-so-lightly across the same experimental ground as the likes of Non, Psychick TV, and Current 93. Laibach does it with dignity and grace, creating a new classical music for a cyberpunk generation. MacBeth is grand, dark, and disturbing and well worth your investment.

The London Quireboys – A Bit of What You Fancy (Capitol Records)
Part of the current seventies rock ‘n’ roll revival which includes the Black Crowes, the Raindogs, and the Joneses, the London Quireboys will bring forth memories of vintage Rod Stewart & the Faces complete with grungy, ringing guitars; guttural, too much smoke-and-whiskey vocals; and a rocking, rollicking rhythm. Short on substance, long on style, and a lot of fun, the London Quireboys are destined to be today’s influence on tomorrow’s bands.

The Screamin’ Sirens' Voodoo
The Screamin’ Sirens – Voodoo (Restless Records)

Uncrowned Queens of Country Thrash, the Screamin’ Sirens have finally delivered a follow-up to their enchanting ’85 debut, Fiesta! The line-up has undergone a few changes since the last time out, with guitarist Rosie Flores striking out on her own for a solo gig, and other members falling prey to marriage and responsibility. Pleasant Gehman, the Sirens’ talented vocalist and songwriter remains, accompanied by the likes of ex-Pandoras bassist Miiko Watanabe and guitarist/songwriting partner Kathryn Grimm. Produced by Ethan James, Voodoo is all guts and fury, thirty-something odd minutes of ringing guitars, flying hormones, sweetly sung harmonies, smart lyrics, and sex appeal guaranteed to please. Seemingly all lace and frills and feminine beauty, the Screamin’ Sirens are all leather and steel when it comes to their music. These girls R-O-C-K with the big boys, so don’t you ever forget it!

Too Much Joy – Son of Sam I Am (Alias Records)
Too Much Joy are to much fun with their second effort, Son of Sam I Am. Four-chord power rock with lots o’ loud guitars, banging drums and such only serve to distract from the real attraction of the disc: the lyrics. Too Much Joy’s songs range from the sophomoric to the slyly satirical, their razor-sharp barbs unfailingly hitting their mark, whether they’re aiming at video hucksterism (“Hugo!”), new age mumbo-jumbo (“My Past Lives”), or life in general (my personal favorite, “Clowns”). Funny, stupid, witty, clever, cynical, and absurd this is a disc that deserves a place on your turntable.

Various Artists – Human Music (Homestead Records)
My buddy Gerard, the big cheese over at Homestead, won’t send me any more records ‘cause he’s still pissed off over a Sonic Youth review from years past, but he’d be glad to know that I plonked down a tenner for the label’s newest low-priced, liver-quiverin’ comp Human Music. Lotsa faves on here, from the scary nightmarish vision of Phantom Tollbooth to the abrasive pop of Happy Flowers, from New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo and their enjoyable reading of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” to the ever-enigmatic G.G. Allin. Also features Half Japanese, Live Skull, and Salem 66 among the twenty-five bands included on this two-disc set. Buy it and maybe Gerard will speak to me again in this lifetime...

Terminal City Ricochet
Various Artists – Terminal City Ricochet OST (Alternative Tentacles Records)

Don’t know about the film that this is based on, but it sounds like a real hoot, kiddies! Something ‘bout a city where rock muzak is banned, the Mayor is addicted to the power of teevee, and Public Enemy #1 is a rock ‘n’ roll star…hmmm, sounds sorta like Nashville, don’t it? Anyhoo, the soundtrack is a monster, with cuts from familiar folks like punk crooners D.O.A., the recently broken-up and sadly-lamented Beatnigs, NoMeansNo, and Evan Johns & the H-Bombs. Collaborative material includes a cut from D.O.A. and Jello Biafra, Jello teaming up with NoMeansNo, and Keith LeBlanc’s inspired musical accompaniment to Biafra’s spoken-word piece, “Message From Our Sponsor.” New folks (in these parts, at least) include I, Braineater, Gerry Hannah, and Art Bergmann, distinctive stylists all. An A+ rated soundtrack from A.T.

All reviews originally published in the Summer 1990 issue of Anthem: The Journal of (un)Popular Culture

Friday, December 23, 2022

Lost & Found: The Iron City Houserockers (1985)

The Iron City Houserockers
The Iron City Houserockers, photo courtesy of Cleveland International

The Houserockers – originally called the Iron City Houserockers – should be a superstar band. Their hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll style, sharper than a straight-razor and stronger than a concrete-hungry jackhammer, coupled with singer/songwriter Joe Grushecky’s street-level, dark-side-of-the-sidewalk lyrics create as potent a sound as has ever been heard in rock music. Here’ they are, though, stuck in Anthem’s ‘Lost & Found Dept’.

The Iron City Houserockers' Love's So Tough
The Iron City Houserockers hit the blacktop running in 1979 with their first album, a tasty lil’ sucker by the name of Love’s So Tough, an excellent introduction to their songs of blue collar life and love, angst and frustration. Grushecky’s voice goes beyond sandpaper in comparative quality, more closely resembling the bubbling molten metal so prominent in the band’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home. This initial recording finds the band missing the mark as often as not, but when their aim is true, the results are amazing: the bittersweet “Stay With Me Tonight,” the lovely “Dance With Me,” and the rockin’ “Heroes Are Hard To Find.”

The Houserockers didn’t miss a beat, giving us their underrated classic second album, Have A Good Time…But Get Out Alive. This is a vinyl cry of defiance, the Houserockers representing both a city and a culture, both sadly oppressed by the economic and urban decay destroying the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest. The song titles sum it up and are as tuff & muscular as the tunes themselves: the title cut, “Don’t Let Them Push You Around,” “We’re Not Dead Yet.” This is the same populist common ground that Springsteen and John Cougar have found so much success with the past few year … the Houserockers were doing it five years earlier!

Have A Good Time… features two cuts that are among the most powerful and emotional ever recorded: “Old Man Bar” and “Junior’s Bar.” The young man in “Old Man Bar” hopes that none of his friends see him drinking beer in the old-timer hangout. Backed by only a sparse accordion and mandolin arrangement, the voice sees in the old men and their dashed hopes and dreams his own future. This creates a haunting conflict with his own aspirations, which is reflected in the song and its ending: “It’s true that I am younger now, but it’s very clear, that time is catching up with me I know…”

“Junior’s Bar” has our hero on the prowl, the band suddenly crashing in with guitars ringing as the voice looks for solace and escape, preferably with alcohol and a woman. The contrast between the two songs is pointed, but the continuity of the main character and his attempt to transcend his everyday grind creates a potent seven and a half minutes.

The Iron City Houserockers' Blood On the Bricks
Blood On the Bricks
, the third I.C. Houserockers LP, continued their forward motion. Produced by Steve Cropper, the sound is deeper and clearer, but the edge is still sharp. The band handles the familiar working class themes, throwing in a great Viet Nam vet story in “Saints and Sinners” and a tragic romance in “This Time the Night Won’t Save Us.”

In 1983, the band left behind their “Iron City” moniker, searching for a wider audience beyond the geographical limitations of the Northeast. Their first album as the plain ol’ Houserockers, Cracking Under Pressure was an overlooked gem. Currently, the band is playing the bar circuit, another obscure though talented buncha guys found only in the Lost & Found Dept.   

Review originally published in the ‘Lost & Found’ column of the Summer 1985 issue of Anthem: The Journal of (un)Popular Culture

Friday, December 16, 2022

Archive Review: Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers’ Rescue (1983)

Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers’ Rescue
Yep, here’s another of Springsteen’s ultra-talented E Street Band steppin’ out to release his own solo album; this time it’s the ‘Big Man’ himself, Clarence Clemons and his ass-kickin’ Red Bank Rockers and a hell of a first album titled Rescue.

Clemons has assembled an awesome band on this collection of R&B shouters, including several members of the New York “Music Mafia” such as Desmond Child (co-writer of three songs here), Ralph Shuckett (producer of Ellen Shipley, as well as this LP), and backing vocalists Ellie Greenwich, Ellen Shipley, Rouge (Miriam Valle, Maria Vidal, and Diana Grasselli) and, you guessed it, Bruce himself…

Rescue kicks off with a “Nutbush City Limits” clone, “Jump Start My Heart.” A bit of a filler, perhaps, but then the grooves jump up and grabs ya by the ear when they jump into “Rock ‘N’ Roll DJ,” a smoker. A nightmare familiar to all of us is covered in “Money To the Rescue,” side one ending with the jumpin’ single “A Woman’s Got the Power.”

A slow, powerful “A Man In Love” opens side two, moving into “Heartache #99,” a tune so funky, so soulful, the damn thing drips. Springsteen throws another original number on here with “Savin’ Up,” and the whole party ends with the honker “Resurrection Shuffle.” Clemons’ sax sings through Rescue like a bird in flight, and J.T. Bowen’s vocals match the material heart to heart.

It's amazing that the best music being made in American today is being made by the small, albeit talented Springsteen family (Bruce himself, Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, and the original Asbury Park party band, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and, now, Clarence Clemons). If you want the best release by a new group in 1983, snatch a copy of Rescue. (Columbia Records, 1983)

Review originally published by Anthem zine, December 1983

Buy the CD from Amazon: Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers’ Rescue

Anthem Jukebox: John Fogerty, Humble Pie, Richard Thompson & Vanity (1985)

Humble Pie's A Slice of Humble Pie
John Fogerty – Centerfield (Warner Brothers)
John Fogerty is a legend. Period. His too-few years at the helm of the great Creedence Clearwater Revival not only showcased his considerable songwriting skills and his talent at interpreting other’s material (i.e. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” from CCR’s Cosmos Factory), it also created an impressive number of chart hits that made CCR the primary American singles band. Ever. After Creedence broke up, Fogerty released a modest solo LP and then disappeared…
    After a hiatus of nearly a decade, Fogerty has returned to the recording arena with a real hell-broth of a rock ‘n’ roll album in Centerfield. One listen to these grooves and you’ll find that the wait was well worth it: “The Old Man Down the Road” is a Ronnie Hawkins-styled rave up; “I Saw It On T.V.” is Fogerty’s mini-history of the past twenty-five years; “Big Train (From Memphis),” is his Elvis tribute; there’s the romping and frolicking “Rock and Roll Girls,” and a half a dozen other prime cuts. Lyrically and musically, this is Fogerty at his best. Welcome back, John…it’s like you never left.   

Humble Pie – A Slice of Humble Pie (Compleat Records)
Yet another fine release in the Compleat Records series, A Slice of Humble Pie rescues the Pie’s first two albums, As Safe As Yesterday and Town & Country in their pristine, untouched original form. These early recordings, featuring the virtuoso guitar stylings of a young Peter Frampton and the bad boy zeal of Steve Marriott, illustrate a combination of talents that created a rough-edged, bluesy hard rock sound unlike few others. At their best, as on covers such as Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat” or originals like Marriott’s “Every Mother’s Son,” the primal Pie ran circles around the competition; at their worst, they could still play in the same league as any of the British blues-breakers of their day.

Richard Thompson – Across A Crowded Room (Polydor Records)

He’s been called the best-kept secret in rock ‘n’ roll for a good reason: Richard Thompson is a vastly underrated guitarist and a gifted singer/songwriter with a penchant for dark, haunting lyrics and ethereal vocals. Across A Crowded Room, Thompson’s second solo outing since the split over a year ago with wide Linda, is a musical memory of love gained (and lost); an accurate and insightful portrayal of emotions that we all have experienced. With recordings as meaningful as Across A Crowded Room, it’s a safe bet that Thompson won’t remain a secret long.

Vanity's Wild Animal
Vanity – Wild Animal (Motown Records)

As the first, though surely not the last mutiny from the Prince ship-of-state, Vanity dropped certain fame and fortune by leaving the set of Purple Rain, relinquishing her role to Apollonia in both the film and in the Prince protégé group Vanity 6 (who achieved Gold™ album status with their debut LP). I must admit, though, that the beautiful Ms. Vanity did alright in her film role in The Last Dragon, and that the pulse-quickening layout she posed for in Playboy certainly furthered her, ah … exposure (sorry). But as for her debut solo album, forget it! This shabby effort covers the same old tired ground, with Vanity producing enough orgasmic sighs and rising hormones to try the patience of even my jaded ears. Flaccid and flabby, Wild Animal couldn’t get it up with a pneumatic tire jack. Until they give this woman something real to sing, I’ll stick with my dog-eared copy of Playboy.

All reviews originally published in the Summer 1985 issue of Anthem: The Journal of (un)Popular Culture

Friday, December 9, 2022

Archive Review: The Rolling Stones’ Undercover (1983)

The Rolling Stones’ Undercover
Mick the Boneman, Keef, and all of da boys have been billed as the “Greatest Fucking Rock ‘n’ Roll Band In Da Whole Wide World” for so long that we tend to take da boys for granted. The truth is, the Stones are the most flexible band, perhaps, in the world; like a psychotic chameleon, they’ve survived twenty years at the helm of the biggest bunch o’ misfits playin’ the most dangerous game in town – that’s rock ‘n’ roll to you, mister, and they’ve kept up with the changes in time like nobody’s biznis…

So now it’s damn near ’84, the year of Orwell’s worth nightmare (by the way, go back and read the damn book again; I know you haven’t picked it up since English Lit 101 but if you’ve half a brain, it’s scare the bejeebies out of ya!); and the Stones, fer da lova god, release a song with a political statement like “Undercover of the Night,” proving for once and fer all that there is life after forty, ya know.
The rest of the album ain’t too bad, either, Bunkie! “She’s So Hot” sorta flows offa yer turntable and inserts itself into your own bad ear; the reggae-influenced beat of “Feel On Baby” will shake, rattle and roll yer wisdom teeth; while on side numero dos, such little pretties as da super-funky “Too Much Blood” lay chill on yer spinal fluid. All in all, pretty potent stuff from a buncha guys old enough to be some of you reader’s fathers. After twenty-something odd years that have spanned three decades, I think the Stones have earned any title they’re given. Undercover retains their crown… (Rolling Stones Records, 1983)

Review originally published by Anthem zine, December 1983

Buy the CD from Amazon: The Rolling Stones’ Undercover

Lost & Found: D.L. Byron, DB Cooper & Chuch Francour (1983)

DB Cooper's Buy American
D.L. Byron – This Day and Age (Arista Records)
I’ve found copies of this gem going for as low as 50 cents around town, so scarf it up if you get half a chance! Another artist unfairly labeled as a “Springsteen clone,” Byron manages to transcend this pigeon-holing with a non-stop rockers of an elpee. Ten tunes without a break, produced by Jimmy Iovine (who’s worked with John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, and Springsteen, among others), this mother cooks from start to finish. Byron also did a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love” on the Times Square soundtrack and was responsible for co-writing “Shadows of the Night” with Rachel Sweet, which became a big hit for Pat Benatar. This was his only solo album, though, and worth ten times what you’ll pay for it!

DB Cooper – Buy American & Dangerous Curves (Warner Brothers)
After releasing an independent debut album on the Blue Collar label in 1980, DB Cooper (the band, not the infamous skyjacker…) released these two jewels – Buy American and Dangerous Curves – with a year of each other, promptly disappearing from the music scene altogether. Tis a shame, also, since these two vinyl platters contain more potential hit singles than any two Styx or Journey outings put together. A hard-driving mixture of power-pop and roots-inspired rock, these two albums are among those rare masterpieces to be discovered only in the … ‘lost & found’!

Chuck Francour's Under the Boulevard Lights
Chuck Francour – Under the Boulevard Lights (EMI America)

Another hot one here, boys & girls, Francour’s single solo album can also be found in your local bargain bins for next to nothing. One video managed to make it off this album and onto MTV, but only god (and the record company) know how. This is an excellent debut album nonetheless. Francour’s gruff, rasping sandpaper vocals treat the image-laden songs here with the desperation and respect that they deserve. The themes are familiar here, and as American as Mom and apple pie – street life, girls, cars, fights, and the never-ending grind of the working class. Under the Boulevard Lights is worth the price of admission if only for his priceless rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel.”

All reviews originally published in the ‘Lost & Found’ column of the Summer 1983 issue of Anthem: The Journal of (un)Popular Culture

Friday, December 2, 2022

Archive Review: The Jam’s Snap! (1983)

It’s a real disgrace, a downright cryin’ shame that a band as important, as influential, as seminal as the Jam never even came close to making a dent in the American music scene. The primary singles band of the seventies in England, it was at the very tail-end of their career that they saw any sort of recognition on this side of the Atlantic.

Snap! is a two-record compilation of the Jam’s best material over their all too brief lifespan, including many of their U.K. singles. Twenty-nine tunes collected here, all showing the band’s talents and upholding their reputation as the best English band since the Who. Side one begins with “In the City” and takes a quick, enjoyable run through “All Around the World,” “The Modern World,” and “News of the World,” among others.

Side two sees their inspired cover of the Kinks’ “David Watts” as well as their street-level rocker “Down In the Tube Station At Midnight.” “Going Underground,” “Dreams of Children,” and “That’s Entertainment” help fill out side three, while side four holds several jewels, including the Jam’s (only) American hit, “Town Called Malice”; their last studio release, “Beat Surrender”; and their fantastic Motown-inspired classic “The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow),” easily the best single of 1982.

The final judgement – Snap! is a great compilation, a necessity for any fledgling record collection, and a welcome addition to the hardcore fan’s collection, also. (Polydor Records, 1983)

Review originally published by Anthem zine, December 1983

Buy the CD from Amazon: The Jam’s Snap!

Bootleg Review: Manic Street Preachers' Street Preaching (1996)

Manic Street Preachers' Street Preaching
It’s been five years now since my trip to London, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The buzz on the street was for a band that many were calling a cross between the Sex Pistols and the Clash. The British music media was raising a clamor, as well, waxing ecstatic over the band. Intrigued, I spend most of that week trying to hunt down a handful of singles released at that time by the Manic Street Preachers.

Half a decade later, the Manic Street Preachers are one of rock music’s great “might have beens.” Hugely successful in the U.K. and throughout Europe and Japan, their blend of hardcore punk and British pop – or “popcore,” as it’s been terms – never quite caught on in the United States beyond a small audience. Just as their American label was about to release their third album, The Holy Bible, guitarist Richey James disappeared. Vanished, gone, dropped off the face of the planet altogether. That was a year or so ago and, to the best of my knowledge, he’s yet to be found.

‘Tis a shame, actually, given that there seems to be a minor Brit-pop fever spreading stateside what with bands like Oasis, Pulp, and Blur catching fire. Had their third album not been shelved, who knows what MSP might have achieved. There exists a handful of live discs from the band’s short-lived career. Street Preaching, on Italy’s Kiss The Stone label, is a fine documentation of MSP in a performance atmosphere. Culled from 1992 tours of Europe and Japan, Street Preaching includes many of the band’s early English hits like “You Love Us,” “Crucifix Kiss,” “Stay Beautiful,” and “Slash and Burn.” A few songs are included twice (“You Love Us” three times!), represented in slightly varying forms.

The performances captured on Street Preaching may or may not be typical MSP. This 70-minute disc does a fine job of showcasing the band’s electric appeal, however. Vocalist James Dean Bradfield’s charismatic delivery mesmerizes the audience while James’ guitar burns and blisters through every song. Bradfield’s onstage patter is kept to a minimum, so what is presented illustrates a swaggering, confident rock ‘n’ roll frontman. The Manic Street Preachers could have been a big band in the U.S. Luckily, we have Street Preaching, a musical snapshot freezing the band forever in time. Grade: A

Also on That Devil Music: Manic Street PreachersKnow Your Enemy CD review

Review originally published by R Squared: Rock ‘n’ Roll Kulture for the Masses zine, 1996