Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Gas - Emotional Warfare

Emotional Warfare (1981) ***1/2

Pete Townshend once described the best rock'n'roll as spelling out your frustrations and letting you dance all over them, a maxim which these ultra-obscure neo-mods took firmly to heart.  A power-trio that owed a heavy debt to the Jam, the bracingly powerful but pub-rocking ordinary mod-pop they proffer gains extra fillip from the incredibly cynical, bitter, and disillusioned lyrical outlook of frontman Donnie Burke.  The tunes and sound should be immediately familiar to anyone who'd already heard This Is The Modern World (or The Who Sing My Generation), but a few post-punky years down the line, the Gas deliver the goods with more ferocious intensity than either.  Burke was writing more consistently than Weller was at a similar juncture in the Jam's career; play this record twice or thrice and you'll be guaranteed to remember every hookline chorus, simplistic though some of them may be.  In other words, the songwriting maintains a solid level of consistency and the brash neo-punky attack keeps matters rocking excitingly enough; but it's the lyrics that will stick to your ears, long after the last ringing of the final power-chord crash has faded away.  Burke doesn't pretend to cloak his rage in disingenuous politicizing like many punks, but goes directly at the throat for what's really bothering him:  in a word, girls.  Titles like "Love Bites," "Wasted Passion," "Devastated," and "Losing My Patience," sum up Burke's grim outlook, as he flails from one unsatisfactory relationship to another.  "Definitely Is a Lie," one of the most powerful blasts of anthemic fury, gets down to brass tacks as Burke vents his anger at a girl that he asked out but stood him up, leaving him raging with such a livid apoplexy that you're glad that someone finally wrote a song encapsulating how the wounded betrayal of getting stood up for a date genuinely feels at that moment in time when you're looking at your watch and the realization hits you all of a sudden that she's not going to show up.  The balladic finale, "The Treatment," is even more cynical and bitter than all that's come before, as Burke browbeats with sneering contempt a woman who's chosen a better-looking man as a mate than himself.  All those good looks aren't going to help you when you're sick and pregnant and left out in the cold, he advises her, implying that they all leave you in the end and all love affairs end in failure and betrayal.  The bitterest pill is hard to swallow....

This long, long, long out of print LP has never been reissued on CD and even biographical data on the Gas is impossible to find on the web.  I was able to download it at this link after reading a review that piqued my interest and gambled on a listen, which I'm glad I did:

And wonder of wonders, someone actually posted a YouTube.   74 views total!  Maybe my posting it on my blog will push that viewership to the over 100 mark.

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