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Face To Face -vs- Dropkick Murphys
Split EP
Vagrant


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

Track Listing:

Face To Face

  1. Fight Or Flight
  2. Road Of The Righteous
  3. Wasted Life
  4. Dropkick Murphys

  5. The Dirty Glass
  6. Fortunate Son
  7. 21 Guitar Salute

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Mike Doughty



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