The casual listener might be surprised to learn Live at the Golden Bear 1983 is the third live Plimsouls album to be release in recent years. One listen to Beach Town Confidential from start to finish, however, will explain why the demand is there: this is blood and guts rock transcending fashion (both the punk and new wave of its era), the likes of which will always stand the test of time.
To an even greater degree perhaps than 2010’s Live: Beg Borrow & Steal, The Plimsouls play and sing here like their lives depend on it–plus they absolutely relish that sensation. Comparisons between a young John Lennon and Peter Case are not off the mark: especially when the group is piledriving its way through one of the frontman’s originals, like “Zero Hour” or “Oldest Story in the World.” Case’s singing demonstrates a deep-seated need to not just be heard, but understood. And he enjoys no end belting it out!
The presence of The Williams Brothers, among other guests during this 50-plus minute long set, add harmony vocals on “Who’s Gonna Break the Ice?” but their singing does nothing to undermine the urgency of the performance. Likewise, The Fleshtones’ Keith Streng on “Jumpin’ in the Night,” this otherwise vain attempt to conclude the show, following immediately with another original, “Now,” only ratchets up the intensity of the atmosphere in the club back to fever pitch.
Beach Town Confidential has much in common with its predecessors, including 1988’s One Night in America, most especially the economical brevity of the tracks that proceed in rapid-fire succession as the album progresses. The presence of roots-rock covers, effectively juxtaposed to contrast with the ‘Souls own material, recurs here in the form of “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.” A welcome surprise indeed–and proof positive great rock bands find kindred spirits in other such compelling ensembles–is the inclusion of Moby Grape’s “Fall On You:” no mention is made of the source of the song, but suffice to say it maintains the momentum.
Peter Case must experience a great source of pride in prepping and producing such a release (along with former Plimsouls manager Danny Holloway). It maintains the impeccable credibility of his body of work, with this great band and solo under his own name.