Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pearl Harbor and the Explosions - Pearl Harbor and the Explosions

Pearl Harbor and the Explosions
Pearl Harbor and the Explosions
Warner Bros.  BSK 3404

The Bay Area had a pretty lively punk/New Wave scene while I lived there, mostly centered around the Mabuhay Gardens club in North Beach.  It was largely ignored by the local mainstream media, but the local PBS station used to cover the avant-garde art scene and occasionally included the music scene as well in some late night programs which is where I first saw video art and where I also saw a few New Wave videos.  One of them featured a video from this local band.  I was enamored of all things New Wavy and was taken by the video, particularly the charismatic lead singer, Pearl E. Gates.  They performed their song "Drivin" which became a local hit.  The band never really made it nationally and fell apart a few years later and I ended up buying their album as a cutout.  At the time I was so naive that I thought of this as cutting edge, but listening now it sounds pretty tame.  The group was a lot more pop than punk, although the sound is very New Wave with the propulsive beat and Gates mannered singing style.  They remind me of some of the funkier New Wave groups like Pylon or the Talking Heads.  "Drivin'" was a great single.  It has an irresistible bass riff worthy of Tina Weymouth and a fun, hiccupy vocal from Gates.  "You Got It (Release It)" is a soaring power pop song with nice guitar licks from Peter Bilt.  "Don't Come Back" with its martial drumming and jerky rhythms and "Keep Going" with its quirky inspirational lyrics sound like outtakes from "Talking Heads 77".  "Shut Up and Dance" is one of the harder rocking songs on the album, it reminds me of the Knack.  It will definitely get you moving.  Side one is one bouncy tune after another, perfect for a dance party.  Side two is not as much fun.  "The Big One" is tedious, once the beat slows down you notice how repetitious and simplistic the lyrics are.  "So Much For Love" sounds like the Talking Heads doing a disco song.  "Get A Grip On Yourself" is so David Byrne-like that it borders on plagiarism.  The side ends on a high note with the fast tempo "Up and Over" which gets me bopping big time although it drags on a bit too long.  This album has its flaws, it is derivative and the lyrics are bland to the point of being mundane, but as far as New Wave records go, you could do worse.  There are real drums and no synths and Gates is an engaging singer.  It is not pretentious and it is full of energy.  Recommended for Talking Heads fans who wish David Byrne wasn't so weird. 

1 comment:

  1. That's hilarious...I had a Pearl Harbor album too: "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost Too," which had "Fujiyama Mama" on it. I remember it being pretty entertaining, but apparently not THAT entertaining because I sold it a lonnng time ago.