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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Music Reviews

The Plimsouls' live CD captures the band at the height of its powers.

Plimsouls' live CD is a Sunset Strip time capsule


How many phrases can you think of that make normal people cringe, almost instantly and sometimes violently?

Root canal.

Colonoscopy.

Karaoke night.

"Starring Paulie Shore"...

And, the old standby -- 1980s music.

Shudder.

If the latter conjures memories of one-hit video wonders like Toni Basil ("Mickey"), Vanilla Ice ("Ice, Ice Baby") and MC Hammer ("U Can't Touch This"), or shlocky songs like "Eye of the Tiger" (Survivor) and "Private Eyes" (Hall and Oates), maybe you need to dive into some of the music that came out of Los Angeles in the 1980s.

You had The Blasters, Rank and File, Los Lobos and -- perhaps less known -- The Plimsouls. Formed in the late 1970s by guitar player/songwriter Peter Case, bass player Dave Pahoa, drummer Louie Ramirez and, a bit later, guitarist Eddie Munoz, the bad produced a power-pop sound that mixed British Invasion jangle and R&B with punk energy and attitude.

If you've seen the iconic 1983 movie "Valley Girl," starring Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman, you've seen The Plimsouls. They perform a couple songs in the movie, including their minor hit "A Million Miles Away."

The group only recorded two discs before disbanding (Case went on to a reasonably successful solo career in blues and folk and a few years ago performed a house concert here in Milwaukee). Interestingly, "A Million Miles Away" is on both. The first was an eponymous disc, which is out of print and hard to find. The second was called "Everywhere at Once."

The band broke up shortly after the second disc was released and, by this point, your probably wondering, what's the point?

Though their records still sound interesting, The Plimsouls were always one of those "you have to see them live" bands. As with many bands, the energy and emotion the group generated on stage was hard to replicate in the studio.

That's what makes the "Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal" such a revelation. Recorded at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, the disc captures the band at full power.

Listening to Case, an underrated singer who had been with The Nerves, and Munoz, an equally unsung guitarist, blast through the group's catalog is a shot of pure adrenaline.

With Case's Rickenbacker guitar and Vox amp blaring through one channel and Munoz dominating the other, Plimsouls originals like "Now," "Zero Hour" and "A Million Miles Away" nestle in next to a handful of covers like Thee Midniters' "Jump, Jive, and Harmonize," the classic "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and versions of "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" and "New Orleans" that feature an appearance by New York's The Fleshtones.

If you close your eyes, you can almost smell the beer being spilled on the floor as you imagine a great moment in L.A. rock history. Forget the fact that The Plimsouls fell between the cracks of the emerging punk and new wave scenes and never really got their due.

This is crunchy, garage pop played to the hilt and this CD might make you want to put on a skinny tie and head out to the Sunset Grill (pictured on the cover) before hitting the clubs.

The CD insert contains cool photos of the band and Alive Naturalsound Records is releasing a limited LP version with a free poster. Drop the needle and you'll feel like you are right in front of the stage.


Talkbacks

wiscoleeds | March 24, 2010 at 8:36 a.m. (report)

Thanks for the update. Great band! Cheers Wiscoleeds

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