As the love-scarred know only too well, sometimes the make-up after the break-up is even better than the first flush of romance.
Granted, it might be a tall order for Rob Moss, former member of Washington DC hardcore outfits Government Issue and Artificial Peace, to forget that his break-up with the music scene lasted thirty-five years.
But the intensity of the reconciliation is written all over We've Come Back to Rock n’ Roll, a 14-track ‘proto-punk’ reunion bash awash with guitar-luminary pals. Along for the party are the likes of Wilco’s Nels Cline, The Slickee Boys’ Marshall Keith and Generation X’s Bob ‘Derwood’ Andrews, all of whom add their own twists to the Seventies-style glam tonic. If you’ve got even the slightest taste for anything from the Velvet Underground and The New York Dolls to the Stooges, Alice Cooper and The Dead Boys, you’ll probably want to stick around.
But what seems most important here is attitude – that bona fide bored-and-pissed-off feel that feeds the classic punk vibe. It’s an attitude that has to come from the gut – an almost-can’t-be-bothered kind of rebellion that’s been sorely lacking in recent times. And, despite the hiatus, Rob clearly still has it in spades. It’s palpable throughout, not least in his Lou Reed-ish vocals that almost seem to carry the heavy pulse of his rhythm guitar while the guests flaunt their distinctive wares. It’s immediately evident on opener Babble Tower, a low-down-dirty, garagey slice of fed-upness that punches its heart out while Chris Rudolf’s guitar hollers along. If you want any more proof that we’re dealing with punk’s succinct spirit here, just have a look at the track lengths: 3:55 is as prolonged as it gets, while the shortest number clocks in at just 2.15.
As well as the obligatory 'course language' caution, the album comes with a heads-up about 'heavy sarcasm’ and that tongue-in-cheek lyrical leaning is everywhere, particularly on Ugly Chair, a Ramones-y piece of leather-upholstered action featuring fretboard flashes from Saul Koll. It’s funny, defiant, refreshing stuff. Then there’s the self-deprecating farce of Got My Ass Stuck in a Tree, aided and abetted by hooks from Stuart Casson. Things get just a little Canned Heat on No 48 Crash, featuring Billy Loosigian, with a vague riff-salute to On the Road Again. Then there’s the retro-tastic Oxygenate with some fine Hammond organ from Bobby Madden and guitar flares courtesy of Franz Stahl (Scream, Wool and the Foo Fighters). Life at 33 1/3 RPM is a grungily mesmeric ode to vinyl addiction with rapid runs from Nels Cline heightening that needle-in-the-groove high.
Maybe it’s on the title track, though, that we really feel the blood surge, with properly rock n’ roll licks from Dave Lizmi (The Four Horsemen) and Spit Stix’s quick clicks hustling us towards the affirmatory refrain.
You suspect this is no flash-in-the-pan punk sunset but a whole new beginning – because there’s nothing quite like a rekindled love affair, especially when it’s been this long in coming.
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