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Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Hearts Of Oak


Format: CD
Label: Lookout
Catalog: 290
Rel. Date: 02/11/2003
UPC: 763361929020

Hearts Of Oak
Artist: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Format: CD
New: In Stock and available for pick up Used: In Stock and available for pick up

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Punk rock requires true belief, and after seven albums with the band Chiseland some time with his brother Chris in the Sin Eaters, Ted Leo has earned hisstripes. This might be part of the reason why "Where Have All the RudeBoys Gone?"—the highlight of highlights on his third solo album, Heartsof Oak—is one of the best songs ever written about rock fandom, rockdisappointment, and the intersection between the two. Over a scrappy chop-and-growlguitar riff, Leo flips between his natural and falsetto voices and yowling forall he's worth ("Tension is high/ Under sea and over sky/ Pressuredrop, people are acting/ Foo-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-ah-ooh-liiiish!).Then there's the slow-burn, instant-classic chorus: "I asked Jerry/He told Terry/ Terry sang a song just for me/ Lynvall gave a message to me/Rhoda screamed and then she asked me/ Where have all the rude boys gone?"(Funny thing, though—for a song about rude boys, the track doesn'tskank at all. The song's verses sound like the greatest song Thin Lizzyever wrote, while the chorus bears a strong resemblance to early-80s Brit-popMotown knockoffs like the Jam's "A Town Called Malice.")

On one level, the song's ever-get-the-feeling-you've-been-cheatedvibe seems false—there are countless ska bands out there, Ted. And whilenone of 'em are as good as the Specials (whose Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall,Lynval Golding, and Rhoda Dakar are the names Leo drops in the song's chorus),the fact that none of them have the same sense of occasion as the original British2 Tone movement doesn't mean all is lost. Just because one source of possibilityis out of reach doesn't mean none exists. There's always an epochsomewhere.

So to his credit, Leo spends most of Hearts of Oak trying to create thatpossibility for himself and anyone who might still believe in indie-punk Valhalla.Thanks to his scrap-tin guitar, Dave Lerner's fat fuzz bass, and ChrisWilson's skittering drums, he gets there plenty of the time. And whileLeo is a romantic, he's not stupid. Sure, he can use the words "fungibleconvictions," "abjure," "caricature," "forebears,"and "forbearance" in consecutive lines, as on "The Ballad ofthe Sin Eater," without sounding like a pretentious twit. But it'sthe song's brutally honest yet optimistic tour-from-hell diary (in whichLeo finds himself in Europe, typecast against his best intentions as the UglyAmerican) that helps push it, and Hearts of Oak as a whole, to the kindof far-better-place Leo yearns for.
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