Even with the benefit of hindsight, it's difficult to figure out why the band never broke out of a respectable local following and into the larger national spotlight. As a no-gimmicks rock band, Charlie Sanders, Bill Myers, Ken Jones and Dave Randall possessed levels of talent and flexibility beyond your average three-chording schleps, and as a tireless touring unit with a decade's worth of longevity, they had the requisite stamina. Maybe it was a string of mediocre recordings that torpedoed the band's chances at the big time, or maybe they just never had the luck to be at the right place at the right time when the fashion curve peaked. Moot points all, now that The Missiles have called it quits, but the product at hand makes a strong case in parting that The Missiles were a better band than most of us ever gave them credit for.

Side one spotlights Missiles originals, starting with the retrospective "All I've Done," which is as fine a local-interest rock-and-roll song as this town's produced. "Start Drinkin'" takes another stab at the band's ongoing beer theme, "Twist My Soul" holds its own in the respected I'm-about-to-have-another-ex-girlfriend field and "Already Missin' Me" could be either a response to that very same ex, or to a local crowd that's sure, like me, to afford the band more respect in retrospect than ever they did when it really mattered.

Side two is where the band's flexibility really shines, though, and it comes on four covers. Frank Zappa's "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes" gets an inspired reading, followed by The Del Lords' bar classic "Mercenary," locals Tab Jones' heartbreaking "Ash Wednesday" and Tom Waits" "Blue Valentine," on which Sanders has a surprisingly unstrained take.

It's a hell of a collection, and even on the cassette that I have for review, the sound is fatter and fuller than the band's Full Scale Mattress Fire offering of two years back. It sounds like nobody was trying too hard to do anything but generate that bang all veteran bands want to go out with. And this time, they got it.

-- Brad Tyer

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