The Plimsouls: Live Beg Borrow & Steal: October 31 1981 Whiskey


The Plimsouls were virtually alone as an authentic rock and roll band within the lemming-like procession of New Wavers that followed the punk explosion of 1979. In this Halloween 1981 recording from the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, this group’s savvy fusion of influences is absolutely galvanizing.

For one thing, the urgency of Peter Case’s singing can’t help but remind of a young John Lennon and not just when he and the band are covering "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". He and the band repeatedly bring  original material like "A Million Miles Away" to a full boil. Yet the songs are inseparable from the passionate performances throughout: Case’s lyrics on numbers like "Shaky City" offer images as vivid as the sound of the instruments carrying strains of surf music, rhythm and blues and pure unadulterated rock and roll.
 On "Everyday Things, " the Plimsouls rage against the mundane and monotonous not as nihilist punks but earnest musicians aspiring to transcendence through the power of their playing. Eddie Munoz’ lead guitar is a sonic fireball on the ominous "Inch by Inch" and he’s a marvel of abandon and precision as he corkscrews through the roaring rhythm work of bassist Dave Pahoa and drummer Lou Ramirez on "Zero Hour,"
Another live Plimsouls CD, albeit a rare one, is One Night In America, and it’s also worth having for the group’s savvy choices of pop covers including "Time Won’t Let Me" and Marvin Gay’s "One More Heartache." But Beg Borrow and Steal reflects The Plimsouls’ sense of history even more broadly as they offer a lengthy encore of "Hey Hey Hey Hey!" (another homage to The Beatles), as well as "New Orleans," during which the quartet, riding the wave of their own stratospheric high spirits, demonstrate as much affection as reverence for the roots of their music.  The Plimsouls may be a minor piece of rock history, but, based on this CD alone, they certainly shouldn’t be considered a trivial one.

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