Thursday, 17 May 2012

One and a half Albums, plus some other tracks

That is my brief summary of The Stereophonics.
Unfair? Possibly, but bear with me.

Thumping drums, turned up loud and noisy guitar, and a vocal style reminiscent of Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers (ie 20 Marlboro and gargling broken glass before going on stage) - what's not to like?
Absolutely nothing I thought as I pushed the first album ("Word Gets Around") into the CD Player.
At the end of it, there is still nothing missing and this is a band I intend to follow.

The second album ("Performance & Cocktails") is released (preceded by the single 'The Bartender & The Thief' (more of which later), and its more of the same but now with added shine.
But for me, it all gets a bit wearing about halfway through the album.

Subsequent albums were purchased more out of a sense of loyalty than actually being excited by the new release.
"Just Enough Education To Perform" was the sound of the band losing direction.  'Mr Writer' is OK, but not exactly earth shattering, whilst the album just feels like an attempt to write anthems for the US stadium crowds (prime example: 'Have A Nice Day' - destined to be heard on any TV Programme where a feeling of happiness is wanted to be conveyed (expect to hear it A LOT in the forthcoming Jubilee & Olympic months)).

If their cover 'Handbags & Gladrags' was appended to the next album ("You Gotta Go There to Come Back") it would make it a touch more palatable.  "Maybe Tomorrow" is the best track by a long way on this album.  As it is, I think I've only listened to it three times (the second and third times to make sure I'd not missed anything.  I hadn't - I still thought it was an awful album)

"Language. Sex. Violence. Other?" is another mish mash of patchiness.  "Dakota" sticks out a mile in amongst the dross.  In fact, I feel confident in saying the song is one of their best.

"Pull The Pin" is another which has had no more than two listens.  "Pass The Buck" and "Bank Holiday Monday" are listenable, but the album is ultimately disposable and not really necessary.

And so the last album (so far?) - "Keep Calm and Carry On" is not actually that bad, its certainly a lot more "listen again-able" than the previous three.

So there it is - the story of a band with great potential, but failed to fulfill their promise (at least in my eyes anyway).

I could've chosen any track from the first album to illustrate how good The Stereophonics could've been.
But I will choose 'The Bartender & The Thief'.
this track became a thing of legend when it soundtracked a very drunken Air Guitar competition on New Years Eve.  It proved so popular, it was repeated the following New Years Eve and (embarrassingly) videoed and played back when moments of shaming are called for.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think your summary is unfair - it's spot on.
    The first album bottles some of the band's early energy and passion. I saw them live at Northampton's Roadmender about the time of the release of Local Boy In The Photograph, and I distinctly remember telling my mate: "These boys are going to be huge." They were only young, but had played in clubs for years, and those songs were full of vim and vigour. And they were having fun, leaping about the stage, feeding off eachother's energy, and looking thrilled to be in a rock band.
    Then things took off for them, the lead singer seemed to turn into a wannabe Bono, and the music got flabby and dull. You're right, Dakota is good, though.