Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Nomads - Showdown!

I’ve been a fan of this band since I first found their Outburst! album in the mid-80’s. Their amazing mix of Detroit power and 60’s garage was a template that many bands drew upon over the years and their songwriting was always ace. Their influence has been seen on bands such as the 90’s/00’s wave of Swedish/Norwegian punk’n’roll bands, like the Hellacopters and Turbonegro.

This collection, put out by the paragon of good taste, Long Gone John on his Sympathy for the Record Industry, starts with their legendary classic, “The Way (You Touch My Hand)”. Simple power chords, great melodies and wild guitar leads create one of the best songs of the 80’s! If this was the only tune these cats ever released, they would still be revered as rock gods. But this two CD collection (and they’ve put out many more records since this was released) shows their versatility and skills as interpreters as well as songwriters.

A number of songs from the Outburst release are included, such as “Lowdown Shakin' Chills”, which the Hellacopters covered and the incredible “Where the Wolf Bane Blooms”, which they found the words for inside of the MC5’s High Times record, instead of from the original Wolf Man movie!

A couple of highlights from other people’s pens are their amazing take on the Lyres’ “She Pays the Rent” and the Dictators then-unreleased masterpiece “16 Forever”. They destroy the Lyres version with a high-energy blast of punk rave-up augmented with a Saints-like horn section. They stay pretty true to the original Dictators but just the fact that Shernoff’s version wasn’t readily available made this all that much more desirable, regardless of the fact that they tear it up!

They even do a Jeffrey Lee Pierce song that he wrote from the Droogs, “Call Off Your Dogs”. Hard to say which band does this better, as they both are damn great, though pretty different.

Disc one also has one of the – if not the – last songs that Johnny Thunders ever played on, a Nomads’ original “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”. There’s also the fine soul rock of “Fire and Brimstone”, a Link Wray tune, and a super-tough “Wimp”, from the incredible California punk rock band, the Zeros.

Disc 2 has oddities and rarities and some of them are truly odd – such as the 50’s “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache” and “I’m a Ding Song Daddy”. There’s plenty of garage tunes – the Sonics’ “Psycho”, “Have Love Will Travel” AND “Cinderella”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White”, “You’re Gonna Miss Me” (fine take on this extremely over-done classic) – and more 70’s rock, like “Real Cool Time”, “The Next Big Thing” and even a terrific “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” (originally they released this as a single under the name Screaming Dizbusters with “Next Big Thing” for the fantastic fanzine of named for that Dictators’ classic).

The set closes with a great – and funny – acoustic, rockabilly version of “Motorhead” – and yes, it actually works!

The Nomads are one of the longest lasting garage-oriented bands and they still rock just as hard as they did when they burst onto the scene in the mid-80’s. This is a super collection of some of the best stuff from this time period and I just saw that they now have a part two to this comp, so I’ll have to get that one, also!