Sunday, August 14, 2011

All Over The Place - The Bangles


All Over The Place
The Bangles 
Columbia BFC 39220
1984

It has been a while since my last post.  I was on vacation up in Alaska.  Alaska is awesome but I never found a record store there so I doubt that I'll ever be moving there.  Despite its many faults, Southern California is a record lover's dream.  There are lots of record stores  and the live music scene is tremendous.  If I had the time, money and stamina, I could see a good show just about every night.  The area has also produced a lot of terrific bands, including the Bangles who started just a couple of miles from my home.  I recently saw the Bangles in concert.  Michael Steele was not there and she was replaced by a male bassist and a guy on keyboards as well, so I guess they aren't really a girl group anymore.  The concert was a pleasant surprise.  The old songs sounded great and the new songs didn't suck.  The ladies may be getting older but they can still bring it, if you don't believe me you should check out their electrifying cover of the Nazz's "Open My Eyes."  I enjoyed the show so much, it got me to dig out this album and give it a spin.  It is my favorite of their original albums even though it was the least successful commercially.  It may not have produced any hits, but it should have, "Hero Takes A Fall" is one of their best songs, it is so catchy and compelling, it has classic single written all over it.  The album is not marred by any sappy Susanna Hoffs ballads and it has a cleaner, less fussy sound than their later albums.  Most of the record was written by Vicki Peterson who has clearly listened to lots of 1960s records.  "James" sounds like Petula Clark crossed with the Monkees.  "All About You" sounds like the Jan Errico era Mojo Men crossed with the Byrds.  The Hoffs-Peterson song, "Dover Beach" is an enchanting mixture of folk-rock and power pop with an alluring Hoffs vocal and some stinging guitar from Peterson.  It concludes an absolutely flawless side of music.  Side two kicks off with the chiming opening guitar line of "Tell Me" before letting loose with some of the hardest rocking music on the record.  It sounds like Paul Revere and the Raiders crossed with the Leaves.  "Restless" is another driving rocker that sounds like the Mamas and the Papas crossed with the early Jefferson Airplane.  "He's Got a Secret" is less rooted in the 60s aside from the vocal harmonies.  It has a nice guitar solo but is otherwise undistinguished.  "Silent Treatment" is another rocker with a New Wave flavor.  It reminds me of the Go-Go's.  It is a slight song, but the powerful guitar riffs make it engaging.  "More Than Meets the Eye" is the quietest song on the record, the guitars and drums are replaced by violins, rarely a good idea.  I find it boring and it ends an otherwise fun record with a bit of a downer.  The Bangles have always had excellent taste in covers and this record is no exception.  Side one offers a faithful version of the Merry-Go-Round's classic "Live" and side two has Kimberley Rew's immortal "Going Down To Liverpool."  It is not quite up to the Katrina and the Waves version but only because Debbi Peterson can't compete with Katrina Leskanich as a vocalist.  You could make a case that this record is too derivative to be considered great, but I don't care.  I love the music of the 1960s and if the Bangles love that music too, I'm on their side.  I do think it is a great record and it makes me happy whenever I give it a spin which is more than I can say for most records from the mid-1980s.  Recommended for people who think the Three O'Clock were a better band than the Police. 

3 comments:

  1. I love the album...one of the best albums of the '80s! One correction, though: Katrina and the Waves' version of "Liverpool" was actually sung by Kimberley Rew, (male) guitarist and former member of the Soft Boys. His voice is similar to Katrina's, but not as powerful.

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  2. One more "Liverpool" fact you can combine with my other comment: Rew also wrote the song.

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  3. It is true that Rew sings the lead vocal on the original version of "Liverpool" which is the one on "Shock Horror" when I believe they were just called the Waves, however I was referencing the version they re-recorded for their Capitol Records debut, "Katrina and the Waves" where Katrina is definitely the lead vocalist. That is my favorite version although I like Rew's version too and indeed the Bangles version as well. It is just a great song period and there can never be too many versions of it. I'll never understand why it wasn't a bigger hit.

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