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Plimsouls' live '81 disc a power-pop winner

Reviewed March 2010

Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal: October 31, 1981 Whisky A Go Go
Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal: October 31, 1981 Whisky A Go Go
By The Plimsouls

Alive Natural Sound: 2009

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

In the early ‘80s, the Plimsouls were one of those bands that almost hit it big. The L.A. power-pop outfit was built around Peter Case's writing and singing, and well-executed hard rock covers. They were the kind of band that all of the musicians knew about but the public didn't quite catch on to, playing a blend of sound that recalled the Who, Kinks, Beatles and elements of garage rock with grooves that sound like, or better than, the songs that sold millions. And they kicked ass live. Their early music was all released on two LPs and an EP, along with a live disc, "One Night in America," released in '88 after the band was history and which featured 13 tracks recorded in a 1981 gig.

Now, there is a new disc of live material, "Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal’, also recorded in '81, on Sunset Strip in L.A. No, not a bootleg, and more than twenty years since any vintage Plimsouls material has been released, this is Christmas in February. Though many of the tracks on the last live disc are here, the sound is mixed differently (a little less mic on Case, a bit more on the tight, excellent guitars, but a good mix).

The 18 tracks include versions of the best Plimsouls songs – "I'll Get Lucky," "A Million Miles Away," "Hush Hush" and others that are as good or better than the ones on the last live disc. In addition, this time, there are "Zero Hour," "Everyday Things" and "Lost Time," all power pop gems. The covers include the Gary Bonds tune "New Orleans," the Kinks' "Come On Now," and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy." The last two were on the first live disc, but these versions are sharper.

It is a live disc, and sounds like it, but the music transcends the technological limitations again and again. Throughout, on all of the tracks, the electricity of this band is evident. The adoring crowd knew that it might have been witness to one of the best live acts in the business at the time. For fans of power pop music, this is a must-have. "Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal" is also a good introduction to the Plimsouls for those who missed them the first time around.

Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.

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