Vagrantís intriguing series of splits allow
bands to pat each other on the ass and pillage each otherís
already close fan base. But more importantly, even for those
of us who never cared for the split format, it certainly makes
for an interesting sociological experiment. Albeit one that
paved the way for the dreaded tribute album phenomenon.
As one of the leaders of 90ís punk revival,
Face To Face have received less than their due. Old
schoolers tend to slough them off as pop-punk, while blindly
defending the less aggressive likes of Bad Religion.
This hypocrisy is the first sign on the road to becoming a
burnout, and the fourth sign of the Apocalypse. So purists,
get out of the new road if you canít lend a hand.
"Fight Or Flight" speaks directly
to that mode of thought with a humble honesty. I canít
figure it out any more than the generation before me. You
know that two-chord drone that has permeated indie rock for
the last fifteen year? Guess what, kids? Trever Keith
has found the resolution to it. When he finds the end, he
jumps off! The drought is over, and we can move on completely
satisfied. Nextly, Pete Parada has some drumming techniques
he would like to share with you. Using more square footage
of his kit than required by punk, he executes change-ups that
feel great. These guys donít even need to anticipate each
otherís moves anymore. The cover of Dropkick Murphysí (whatís
the possessive case here) "Road Of The Righteous"
is a little limiting to the Facesí range. Initially
it comes in with a weird J. Geils flavor that no one
else will confirm. The energy and structure are all intact,
in fact more urgent than the original. And no one would refuse
to raise a glass, but the song itself restricts the vocal
offering. I cringe anytime someone covers Stiff Little
Fingers, so this version of "Wasted Life"
is a relief to hear. Both because they do it justice, and
because the subject matter is so timely. A little counterweight
to the unquestioning patriotism weíre all expected to be exhibiting.
I thought this was going to be Don Williamsí
"Amanda", but "The Dirty Glass" soon
showed itself as a melodramatic Pogues styled call
and response domestic dispute. A great line out of the gate,
Your pain was my pleasure, your sorrow my joy. I fear I
have lost you to health and good cheer. The flavor is
a little thin, and the characters donít draw any sympathy.
Then you realize itís less corned beef than Meatloaf.
The comic relief is a friend butting into the proceedings
sounding like David Johansen I think the title was
ironically lifted from Filthy Thieving Bastards. And
after the dead-on impersonation Johnny Bonnel does
of Shane MacGowan, this sounds like a Broadway production.
CCRís "Fortunate Son" gets croaked, howled,
and screamed out. Itís difficult to make this one more gritty
than the original, but the boys find a little more room to
move. Itís a great song, and an exciting version. The Pressí
trashy anthem on "21 Guitar Salute" is a fine piece
for taking to the open road. The lyrics stick, and Al Barr
does a neat modulation to end every salute. That nice attention
to detail makes the difference. Very traditional punk guitar
elements mimic the wind blowing through my mohawk. The drums
downshift to pick up the always welcome bagpiper Spicy
McHaggis as the ride slows down to cruise for chicks.
On a scale of what will become of my copy: If
one is selling at my garbage sale, and ten is replacing "Duck
And Cover" in my disc player -Face To Face vs. Dropkick
Murphys rates a seven: Give it to the wife as incentive to
return my "Retreads & Broken Quills" CD.
ó Ewan Wadharmi
Face To Face
- Fight Or Flight
- Road Of The Righteous
- Wasted Life
- The Dirty Glass
- Fortunate Son
- 21 Guitar Salute
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