Liquor Giants "Every Other Day at a Time"; The Movie "Movements"
By Michael Henningsen
MAY 4, 1998:
Alibi Rating Scale:
I saw a hilarious personal ad from a woman that read "If you have more than five records on Matador," and instantly laughed for the rest of eternity. I never called the person (I already had a beloved with a few Matador releases I didn't own, and we shacked up after just a month), but I don't doubt she also owns a copy of this stellar record to add to her Liz Phair, Pizzicato 5 and Chavez releases.
Fans of Guided by Voices, Big Star and locals the Ant Farmers won't be displeased with the pop confection here. It's Elvis Costello covering Rockpile. Those with a little bit more knowledge will immediately recognize Ward Dotson as one of the main guys behind the cool records that were filed in the 1980s by the Gun Club. When he left, the band turned to shit. This is his new stuff, and he still knows how to do it. Thank God for the return of '80s guitar pop. Dotson is a graceful master.
Filled with five-chord romps and harmonies slightly outside their range, the Liquor Giants please in their spirited effort to reach and not quite hit the notes. It's the perfect prescription for the musically informed: You know how it should go, you've heard it all before, and the art is in the barest suggestion of the masters' work. Here, they bother to follow through enough to give listeners a valuable taste. No, they didn't reinvent what happens among four musicians. Yes, they wrote clever songs that satisfy. Lately, that's a lot.
Given the clever distaste for hipsters in "What's the New Mofo," and loss of faith in "Meaningless" and "It Only Hurts When I Smile," one would think by the lyric sheet Every Other ... was an acidic work from a jaded has-been. But the cleverness extends to the hook-laden guitar parts that melodically lead Dotson and band to redemption in "Caroline," a ballad with guts, and the mournful "I Know I'm Wrong." Dotson may make mistakes in his life he's sorry for, but Every Other Day at a Time is a stand-up achievement. !!! 1/2 (BD)
The Move Movements (West Side)
You gotta admit the UK was pretty impressive around '66-'68. Sure, the Beatles and Stones were getting boring, but the Who and Kinks were making their best records, The Creation were attacking guitars with violin bows and setting fire to paintings onstage, and Syd Barrett was busy destroying his talent and his mind. And up in Birmingham, Roy Wood's little mod group The Move were becoming the Pop Art band of all time.
Some pop historians call The Move a flower power band because their biggest hit was called "Flowers in the Rain." But that single's promo poster featured a drawing of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in bed with his Monica Lewinsky, and the band smashed up TV sets and cars on stage and held submachine guns in their promo pictures.
Movements is a 54-song, three-CD set comprising their entire '67-'70 output. The first CD is nothing but magnificently weird pop art gems like the 1812 Overture-quoting "Night of Fear," "Disturbance" and the brilliantly psychedelic "Cherry Blossom Clinic" and "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," interspersed with gentle tunes like "The Girl Outside" and a wacked-out cover of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart."
Their second album, Shazam, is nearly as good and includes one of Wood's finest, "Blackberry Way." A weird mixture of caberet material, classical influences and proto-metal, Shazam is less immediately engaging than their earlier material but repays close listening.
Unfortunately, Looking On succumbs to excess and is a sprawling, lumbering mess. New member Jeff Lynne wanted to continue Wood's classical forays (Wood, Lynne and bassist Bev Bevan eventually formed ELO), but the classical explorations here are buried in sludgy power chords. Yawn. However, the second half of the third CD is a great set of covers recorded live at the Marquee, including punky versions of Love's "Stephanie Knows Who" and the Byrds' "So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star," ending the box set on a high note. Despite the one bum album, this set is absolutely essential listening for anyone interested in '60s pop. !!!!1/2 (SM)
--Brendan Doherty and Stewart Mason
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