Once A Day

Nick West's reviews for Bucketfull Of Brains and Rock'N'Reel

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Location: London, United Kingdom

Co-editor and publisher of Bucketfull Of Brains since 1996.

Friday, December 05, 2008




Now supposed one of the lesser lights of the Paisley Underground contingent of the early 80s True West’s reputation has languished outside the circles of the cognoscenti. While Steve Wynn and Sid Griffin have remained, if not household names, at least well respected and productive it’s been very different for Russ Tolman, Gavin Blair, and Richard McGrath.

A host of individuals passed through the band, including the purloined rhythm section of Thin White Rope, and a True West of sorts continued after Tolman’s 1985 departure, but this trio was the core of the band. They composed all the songs here, bar one early Pink Floyd cover, and it was Blair’s voice, a cross between Jeremy Gluck and Dan Stuart, and the guitar duels of Tolman and McGrath, so redolent of Television’s Verlaine and Lloyd, that made their name.

This CD contains everything they recorded; the pre-McGrath ‘Lucifer Sam’ single with Steve Wynn on lead guitar, the Hollywood Holiday mini-album, and the full length Drifters. A bonus is the three demos they cut with Tom Verlaine at Bearsville.

These songs chime with the joy in audacious guitar virtuosity that had been lost in the punk years, and while it’s true that Drifters did have some edges smoothed that doesn’t detract. Just listen to the icily plaintive ‘And Then The Rain’, The Barracudas-like ‘Throw Away The Key’, the stunning intro to ‘Backroad Bridge Song’, and the proto alt.country of ‘Ain’t No Hangman’, and wonder how these got away.


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