Long Tall Shorty – A Bird In the Hand (Countdown Records Down 3)
20 years on, the boys are out in the streets again. What can we expect from the new album? Read on...
Imagine that a band you’re in today breaks up before the end of the year. Now imagine that 20 years from now, that same band records and releases an album. Sound likely? Strange as it sounds, Long Tall Shorty is back with a new album on the Acid Jazz imprint Countdown Records and admittedly, their timing was pretty good for a comeback. Between 1978 and 1982 Long Tall Shorty was a mainstay in nightclubs, though their recorded output was minimal. The opportunity afforded LTS in the year 2002 by Eddie Piller must be an exciting kick for the band. But if you are curious as to just where a band like this fits in now, look no further than the back of the CD. The tell-tale sign of Long Tall Shorty’s relevance to today’s scene, as it were, is the logo to Scootering Magazine printed alongside the logos for Countdown and Acid Jazz.
The music is more or less the same - punk-ish music with pop and 60’s influences with healthy nods to The Clash. The production is clearly better than what LTS and their contemporaries had available to them in the 80’s, and the band was very smart to stick to the kind of sound which you might hear at one of their live gigs, which by all accounts have been astounding.
“A Bird In the Hand” starts with some strength from the opening songs “And That Ain’t All” and “Shine On Me”. Then the momentum of the album is then quickly lost and there really isn’t much in the way of recovery. That said, I would like to have heard a band like The Plimsouls handle a song like “Taking Time”…in about 1985.
Quite honestly, there are some fairly decent songs to be found on “A Bird In the Hand”, and songs like “Forever On Your Own” stand out well above some of the album’s weaker tracks. But it seems unlikely that many beyond their core audience will notice and it is also unlikely that there’s really anything further for LTS to accomplish. They should be very proud that they’ve finally gotten a proper album recorded and released and that they can still play a great live set to a bar full of faithful fans. Make no mistake, these are no small feats. It should also be noted, however, that picking up where you left off 20 years on leaves a lot of lost ground to make an attempt at recovering. Moreover, lukewarm covers of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” won’t get you there any faster.
Primarily, “A Bird In the Hand” should be looked at as a tribute and thank you to Long Tall Shorty’s many long-time fans who surely deserve a well recorded album from these Mod revival luminaries. The old boys clearly have a bit of life in them yet and based on the merits of this album you all might do yourself a favor and go see them live if you have the opportunity. But if you weren’t around for the revival the first time around, this album may not be your best way to delve into that legacy.
Were they as much of an influence on Primal Scream as Record Collector (UK) has suggested? Who cares? Just check the band’s web site and hope they have some shows coming up in a town near you where we have no doubt you'll enjoy these even more with some friends, loud speakers and a pint of ale.
[Published 18 December 2002]
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