Tangerines - Into the Flophouse

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2017-05-12

Ziggy Stardust sang, “Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth.” But I don’t smoke, so time just gives me a bunch of odd situations with weird words. Thank you very much! You know, I was just giving a blood sample in the local clinic when I noticed a small refrigerator with the warning: No food or drink allowed! Then a second cautionary warning read: Not explosion proof! Now, that struck me as a bit strange: First, I had recently purchased a new fridge (see my review of Oceans Are Zeroes for further details) and had not thought it necessary to check explosion proof consumer reports. And, let’s face it: If the darn thing did explode, what with the flying flak of metal fridge parts and Freon gas beating the heck out of all the oxygen molecules I needed to breathe, I hardly needed to worry about being hit by somebody’s intended lunch of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with extra mayo.

Did I say that I really like this album? 

But then I thought that refrigerator phrase--Not explosive proof!—pretty much summarized Into the Flophouse by the London based Tangerines. This is roots rock with extra roots and extra rock on the lunch sandwich order. And, yeah, it pretty much explodes through my Polk Audio speakers. This band must be really hot live, with or without the extra mayo.

“Peckham Boys” starts with an almost “Werewolves of London” chord progression and then evolves into something that sounds like Lou Reed. It’s a nice tune with Miles Prestia’s pretty great guitar bit and a pretty great rock ‘n’ roll attitude with a scruffy vocal and scream from Gareth Hoskins. I can’t help thinking “Sweet Jane” or The Rolling Stones when they actually mattered for anything more than an expensive tee-shirt at a concert just to say you were there. Trust me. I taught high school for many years, and I know attitude when I hear it.

There’s more. “Marlene” continues the Lou Reed influence, and then ups the ante with a nod to the great band Television. Pianist Pete Robson (and dad of the drummer!) adds a clever jazzy touch to the tune. The Tangerines have a vocalist in Gareth Hoskins of some distinction. His voice bounces like a pinball between the before-mentioned Lou Reed, Tom Verlaine, Dylan, and even Mick Jagger as he sang “Dead Flowers” on Sticky Fingers. I might even add Jake Bugg on his first (and only one that mattered) album which made it to the pages of Rolling Stone. Hey, how about these guys? Yeah, they are that good. “Long Way Home” follows with an up tempo shuffle and a wonderful (and extremely catchy) chorus. There’s an added value sax by Spencer and a yet another great guitar solo, not to mention the rhythm section of Ricky Clark on bass and Isaac Robson (and pianist’s son!) on drums. Then “Keep on Racing” defines the band firing on all its cylinders. Now, and I really hate to say this, but Prestia’s hot guitar work truly recalls Randy Bachman, a true guitar blunderbuss of a Canadian rock icon. Randy just played the hell out of those first two Bachman-Turner Overdrive records.  Yeah, BTO became a joke and even managed to grace an episode of The Simpsons. But those of us who listened back then remember those early records as an oasis in the disco desert. Prestia is on fire, and his guitar, like the legendary Randy B, sounds like Chet Atkins shaking hands with Pete Townshend. BTO just took care of business. And I hear the same thing in this record. Yeah, these guys, these Tangerines, take care of business, too.

This album manages to capture such a youthful spontaneous sound. That’s not an easy thing to do in the jaded world of rock ‘n’ roll. True, this is “roots rock,” but it’s a fresh and exciting take on tradition. Remember Murmur by REM? That was the start of a big thing. Perhaps, this is the start of something great.

Now, three quibbles: The song “Versailles” isn’t Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” but the rhythm track is pretty darn close. To be fair, CCR’s John Fogerty confessed to “copping Steve Cropper” from Booker T and the MGs. His “Graveyard Train” is homage to Howlin’ Wolf. And didn’t “Travelin’ Band” sound quite a bit like Little Richard? I guess the roots of rock go pretty deep. And my second gripe is the drum/bass intro to “Glam Glam” is really close to CCR’s take on “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” But it’s only for a few seconds, and the song develops into its own right with yet another nice chorus about “my Ma drifting into the sun/I’ve got to take that ticket and feel so numb.” That’s a lovely lyric about the loss of a father. There’s quite a lot of depth to this music. And finally, the song “1945” has a chord progression that sounds a little bit like The Stones’ “Beast of Burden.” Yeah, minor quibbles over thirty-six minutes of pretty exciting rock music.

Perhaps Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy is right when it says, “Everything is one note.”

Of course, Lumpy Gravy also proclaimed, when talking about ponies’ manes, “It’s a vicious circle. You got it.”

And, for crying out loud, I’m still worrying about dodging a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with extra mayo if a refrigerator explodes!

So thank goodness for young bands that produce records like Into the Flophouse. The entire album is a deep groove that, just like rock music itself, never grows old. And the band ends it all with “Lovers Night,” a six minutes plus of wonderful “chooglin” with a driving beat, a bleat or two from Spencer’s sax, tons of fun, miles of attitude, vocal swagger, concert level power and excitement from the drums and bass, and a guitar figure that could, and probably should, just go on forever. 

These Peckham boys have their work cut out for them next time to beat this one. And, in the meantime, there will be the live shows. I see rapt attention, sweat on the dance floor, great songs, perhaps a few new songs, a new inch of growth on all the deep roots of rock ‘n’ roll, and, of course, an understanding that this band’s performance may well explode with all the fury of a few young kids wanting to create something new from something long ago with a much revered past.

 

 

 

 

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