May 21, 2009

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Smithereens, The Smithereens Play Tommy
Koch Records, May 5

When Gang Green re-did “Voices Carry” it was a divine wind of local-scene band-eat-band punkishness, liberally inspired by the Sex Pistols, of course. Since then, musical irreverence has devolved into fodder for the same least common denominator that views Meet the Spartans as historically important satire, or worse, has aimed its vitriol at obscure, inside-joke targets.

Funny that we’re not talking about satire or joke-band hijinks in this instance, not such an odd thing when so many newer bands — OK, the Smithereens are officially old, but bear with — are reconstructing entire classic-rock albums, apparently inspired by some ham-handed idea of channeling the original artists, all for the sake of... well, who knows; most likely some reason Ayn Rand (or P.T. Barnum) would dig.

What would have been a momentous release in the Smithereens heyday of the ’80s, then, becomes a footnote in our information highway. They don’t joke around with the original Who material here, instead using their interpretation to create what would have been the greatest garage-rock album of the decade had they written the stuff, but they, y’know, didn’t. And that’s really that, folks; nothing to see here, move along, although it’s notable that these rebels — probably per Pete Townshend’s wrath-of-God edict — didn’t include “Fiddle About.” Past all this, it’s successful, I suppose, toward the ever-naive end of “introducing a new generation of blah blah blah to blah blah blah.” B-EWS