Billy Bremner, |
(1984; Gadfly, 2001)
Bash! is a great CD by Squeeze, Marshall Crenshaw, Rockpile, Paul McCartney and Nick Lowe. I know your ears have perked up considerably at that statement and I can hear you asking, "What? How could all of these artists appear together on one CD?" Well, the answer is easy. They are all performing here under the stage name of Billy Bremner!
OK, now let's get serious. Scottish rock guitarist, singer and composer Bremner has played with a lot of these folks and their influence on his music is so great that at times he can pass as any one of these rocker's clones. He has also played with Elvis Costello, Little Richard, Johnny Cash and many, many others. Bash! was originally released in 1984 and was one of the great lost albums of the decade. It was released again in June 2001 with five bonus tracks, all from singles Bremner released around the same time.
First, for the uninitiated, and there are a lot of you, let us start with Bremner's pedigreed rock 'n' roll family tree. He is a thoroughbred rocker through and through. He played with both Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, contributing mightily to their solo albums. From there he was asked to join Lowe and Edmunds in their band Rockpile and was an integral part of their famous classic LP Seconds of Pleasure. The two Rockpile frontmen even allowed Bremner to sing lead on two tracks. It was after Rockpile split up in acrimony after just one album that Bremner recorded Bash!
Next, Bremner joined the Pretenders, playing lead on their hit "Back on the Chain Gang" and its fabulous B-side "My City Was Gone." His axe work on the latter track makes it one of my favorite electric guitar rock songs of all time. He continued to work all over the planet well into the '90s, and in 1998 he finally released a second solo album, A Good Week's Work.
Bash! is a fun album from start to finish. Even Bremner's downer songs make you want to party because they don't wallow in self-pity and they express the "That's life, so I'll just go get drunk" attitude found so often in his mentor Lowe's music and exemplified in his song "I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)." The disc opens with the Lowe-sounding "Fire In My Pocket," followed by "Losing My Touch," a song that would have fit in nicely on Crenshaw's 1983 album Field Day. Squeeze's Difford and Tilbrook could have written the third track, "Shatterproof," and did write "When Love Goes to Sleep," which Bremner covers here. It's the Lowe sound again on "Love is Stranger than Fiction," "Perfect Crime" and "Tired and Emotional (and Probably Drunk)." It goes on and on this way for all 16 tracks. Bremner's "devil may care" attitude is further exemplified by his use of cars to express his feelings toward life. "Loud Music in Cars" and "Look at That Car" are prime examples. In the latter the composer lets everyone know about his lust for a particular set of wheels as he describes how he will pay for and maintain his dream machine while cruising all over town.
Bash! proves Bremner is the leader of a really cool sounding four-piece band, which includes the standard guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and an occasional sax solo. He is a better guitarist than Lowe and the band is top-notch all the way. This disc is perfect for playing loudly in your car or while crying in your beer. But Bremner wants to make sure you are drinking that beer, too!
[ by Charlie Ricci ]