Friday, October 3, 2008

The Reducers -- Guitar, Bass & Drums (2008)

The Reducers -- Guitar, Bass & Drums (Rave On)

The greatest bar band to come out of Connecticut in the ‘80s is the greatest bar band to come out of Connecticut now. More than two decades after The Reducers got some recognition for three splendid LPs in the mid-‘80s, the boys are older, but still boys. They are still firmly in the middle of the six-way intersection of pub, punk, and garage rock, and they still have it.

Of course, any Reducers album lives in the shadow of the mighty Let’s Go, where the band’s songwriting was as inspired as its balls-to-the-wall playing. It’s no shame that the band can’t top that minor classic. But on 1995’s Shinola, the songs were solid, but the proceedings had mellowed a bit.

Well fuck mellow. No, this isn’t unholy feedback and breakneck tempos. This is rock and roll, played by guys who love the music as much now as they did when they first got together. Maybe good old rock isn’t as dangerous as whatever genre is getting kids to cut themselves or read lots of Alastair Crowley. But when played with the right spirit, it radiates a ton of energy.

Just hear the passion of "Don’t Ya Wanna". This is true power pop. The song establishes the melody right away, with a thoroughly engaged lead vocal. When the band kicks in, the playing is muscular, but the boys make sure to keep the spotlight on the melody. This song is wistful and happy and has a great message -- go out and rock: "So don’t tell me that you’re busy/that you got other things to do/don’t tell me that you’re tired/hey, I work all day too/’cause there’s a band that’s playing somewhere/and that’s the place I’m gonna be." Yeah!

I’ve always liked the fact that The Reducers respect good old fashioned rock and roll and blues (like the band’s fabulous "Bums (I Used to Know)" from back in 1984). This comes through loud and clear on "Paranoid Blues". This song has a swinging beat with a classic chord structure and plenty of guitars.

All of the bases are covered. "Meltdown" is a sweet pop tune with a pub rock buzz. It’s the type of track that should have come out on the A-side of a Stiff Records 45 back in the day. The galloping "I Don’t Mind" is a somewhat garagey power jangle number that sounds like prime Hoodoo Gurus.

The best track on the disc unites The Reducers with Mark Mulcahy, the former leader of Miracle Legion, and a fellow Connecticut rocker. "My Problem" is one of those songs that instantly announces itself as a classic. Mulcahy’s hang dog vocals are perfect for this song of devotion, with a Big Star quality melody married to a solid R & B inspired foundation. This song would have sounded great in 1978, 1988 or 1998, and certainly does so now.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable disc from beginning to end. Long live The Reducers.

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