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Monday, September 21, 2015

Brinsley Schwarz: Please Don't Ever Change

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ: PLEASE DON'T EVER CHANGE (1973)

1) Hooked On Love; 2) Why Do We Hurt The One We Love; 3) I Worry ('Bout You Baby); 4) Don't Ever Change; 5) Home In My Land; 6) Play That Fast Thing (One More Time); 7) I Won't Make It Without You; 8) Down In Mexico; 9) Speedoo; 10) The Version (Hypocrite).

Apparently, this is a «stop-gap» album, thrown out on the market to appease the fans (but how many fans?) while waiting for the boys to write and record a proper set of new tunes — which explains its very lightweight nature, even judging by Brinsley Schwarz's usual standards. But even so, its title is symbolic: formally, it is simply the title of an old Goffin/King song that they are covering here, but allegorically, it reflects the band's ever-growing ideology of «if it ain't broke, don't fix it» — which this album is all about, from head to toe.

Be it as it may, this time around Nick Lowe and Co. are not even trying to imitate The Band — or, if they are, they are inadvertently imitating The Band's Moondog Matinee (inadvertently, be­cause both records happened to be released at the exact same time, October 1973). Then again, if you throw in Bowie's Pin Ups, 1973 was probably the first year of massive nostalgia for pop mu­sic of the previous decades (and then we'd also have to mention American Graffiti, and then there is simply no stopping...), so no wonder that Please Don't Ever Change is filled to the brim with Fifties- and Sixties-sounding soul, R&B, doo-wop, Latin, rockabilly, ska, and New Orleanian music. The only difference being is that most of these songs are not covers, but Nick Lowe (and Ian Gomm) originals, but other than the lyrics and the arrangements, little about these «originals» is «original» in the proper sense of the word.

Since this is Brinsley Schwarz we are talking about, this implies that the sound will be professio­nal and clean, the «show-off factor» will be less than zero, the atmosphere will be light, homely, and pleasant, and the memory of the album will probably wear off you in 24 hours if no more music is listened to, and in much less than that if you aurally compare this stuff to whatever, say, Genesis, The Who, or even The Faces were doing that same year. Some of the songs are just total novelties (or, rather, «oldities») here, with no individual reasons to exist — ʽDown In Mexicoʼ is not a cover of the hilarious old Coasters number, but an «original» Latin serenade pastiche, which the band is unable to play better than your average Mexican band and, what is worse, is also unable to render distinctly «Brinsley Schwarz-ian», whatever that could mean; and their take on ska is either limp and devoid of energy (in between ʽWhy Do We Hurt The One We Loveʼ and ʽWrong 'Em Boyoʼ, I know which one I'd choose in a jiffy), or simply puzzling (what is that in­strumental cover of Leroy Sibbles doing there in the first place?).

With the blues, these guys are in more familiar and comfortable territory, and soulful numbers like ʽI Worryʼ and ʽI Won't Make It Without Youʼ, whose spiritual ancestors include B. B. King, Sam Cooke, and Fats Domino, among other people, are smooth and touching, though I would not know what else to say. Somewhat more exciting is the live version of ʽHome In My Handʼ from the previous album, with a nice jamming section where Brinsley and Ian heat up the hall with nasty riffs and hysterical solos (think of the little brother of Marc Bolan on rhythm guitar and the little brother of Alvin Lee on lead, though both clearly have a long way to go). But on the whole, even here there is not much to say — just tap your toes and be happy, and please don't ever change, because, you know, we like you just the way you are. (At least they do this song better than the Beatles did it on the BBC — but fortunately for Brinsley, the Beatles never tried to re­cord it in a regular studio session). 

1 comment:

  1. "Brinsley and Ian heat up the hall"
    Warm up. Lukewarm.

    ReplyDelete