Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Standells - Ban This! Live From Cavestomp!

While the Standells broke up in the early '70s, drummer and lead vocalist Dick Dodd has staged reunion gigs on a fairly regular basis since the early '80s, and this live album preserves their appearance at the 1999 Cavestomp Festival in New York, an annual gathering for fans of vintage garage rock. Unlike most of the bands worshiped by garage loyalists, the Standells were music biz pros first and sneering upstarts second, so it's no surprise that this set sounds solid, tight, and just like the records; original members Dodd, Larry Tamblyn (organ and vocals), and Tony Valentino (guitar, harmonica, and vocals) are joined by bassist Peter Stuart, and they sound like a well-oiled machine, playing a baker's dozen of their best-known tunes with lots of skill and some genuine enthusiasm. It's probably not that different than the set they might play at an oldies package show, except that they get to wail on "Riot on Sunset Strip" and "Medication," and Dodd seems to enjoy revving up the crowd by shouting "Are you punk enough for the Standells?" and "Hey, ban THIS!" (the latter intro-ing the once-infamous "Try It"), which might not go over at Disneyland. In short, it sounds like a show that would have been a lot of fun to see, but on plastic, it sounds professional without matching the nervy spirit of their old records. Since a healthy percentage of the Standells' repertoire is readily available on CD, you're probably better off with a decent greatest-hits collection than this, though if you're a completist, you won't be at all let down. [The CD also includes three live video clips from the show, playable on computers with a CD-ROM drive; the band looks game, if a bit long in the tooth.]

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