Friday, November 23rd, 2007
What Became Of The Likely Lads?
The first time I’d ever heard of The Libertines was in the context of a news item that talked about one Pete Doherty being arrested for burglarizing the apartment of his former bandmate, one Carl Barat. This is not what we call a good first impression. And from that point forward, all I’ve known of Doherty and his compatriots is the media circus that has been his life over the past however many years regarding his various drug addictions, supermodel girlfriends and what have you. It’s been enough to make me dislike him intensely without having ever heard a lick of his music.
But people whose opinions I generally trust have long insisted that there was a reason that Doherty and The Libertines were held in such high regard, that there was more to him than just the tabloid fodder. After all, it’s not overstatement to say that they, along with Coldplay, have had the greatest influence over the current state of British indie rock (whether this is good thing or not is up to you). So with the release of their best-of compilation Time For Heroes and more specifically, its arrival in my mailbox, I decided it was time to see what the fuss was all about with as much of an open mind as I could muster.
And I didn’t need to go too far into the compact collection to get it. Taking tracks from both Up The Bracket and The Libertines as well as a smattering of b-sides and miscellany, Time For Heroes makes the case for The Libertines as a potent, anthemic working class rock band in the grand tradition of The Clash though less concerned with revolution as chasing birds and getting one’s drink on (and later on their own internal drama). Some of the material presented is forgettable but the singles – “Up The Bracket”, “Time For Heroes” and “Can’t Stand Me Now” in particular – are, from the first listen, for the ages. Scrappy and snotty in all the right places and only occasionally too much so, it’s the sound that could and seemingly did launch a thousand lout-rock bands that the world could probably do without.
But it’s also the sound of a band that wasn’t built to last. Even without knowing all the specifics of the inter-band turmoil (which I only just looked up on Wikipedia), you can hear the tensions and inevitable burnout looming in the music. Before hearing their records, I would have preferred to believe that the appeal of the band lay in the drama surrounding them – it certainly made ignoring them easier – but now I see that wasn’t the case. If I were of a certain time and place in my life and looking for a soundtrack, I could see being swept up in it all and having them be the only band that mattered. None of this makes the sideshow of Doherty’s non-musical antics any less reprehensible, but now that I know how much talent he’s squandering in doing what he does, it does make it that much more tragic.
MP3: The Libertines – “Time For Heroes”
MP3: The Libertines – “Never Never”
MP3: The Libertines – “Can’t Stand Me Now”
Video: The Libertines – “What Became Of The Likely Lads” (YouTube)
Video: The Libertines – “Time For Heroes” (YouTube)
Video: The Libertines – “Can’t Stand Me Now” (YouTube)
Video: The Libertines – “Up The Bracket” (YouTube)
Video: The Libertines – “Don’t Look Back Into The Sun” (YouTube)
Video: The Libertines – “I Get Along” (YouTube)
Lavender Diamond will be at Lee’s Palace on December 17.
Spin has posted an excerpt of their cover story interview with both Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Bruce Springsteen. They also solicit Boss love from The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and The National’s Matt Berninger. Springsteen is (almost) coming to town with a show at Hamilton’s Copps coliseum on March 3 of next year.
I’ve got family visiting this weekend so it could be another weekend without posting… yeah I’m totally turning into a slacker. But in the meantime, peruse The Guardian‘s list of 1000 albums to hear before you die and make sure to allot yourself enough time to listen to them all before kicking ye olde bucket.