The Plimsouls reunion might have seemed a wee bit more momentous if the band's demise in 1984 had been more of an event. But few were looking on when the Los Angeles quartet dissolved after four frustrating years. During that time, the group seemed to be going out of its way to apologize for the one-off success of skinny-tied hacks such as the Knack. In the process, they made the world safe again for power pop bands that revered the past and yet had something worthwhile to contribute to the present -- even if the Knack did have the last laugh commercially.
The reunited Plimsouls are hoping that the '90s will be kinder to them than the '80s were. They've been on the road since last year, honing a set that mixes old and new songs and concentrating on the West Coast and Texas, areas where they've always felt the most welcome.
While the Beatles' melodic aura continues to envelope the Plimsouls, their most obvious guilty pleasure is the Byrds, as evidenced by "A Million Miles Away," a should-have-been-a-hit tune that was the group's best known contribution to the Reagan era. While the song's signature lick was lifted virtually intact from Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker handbook, its aggressive backbone owed more to punk than to folk rock, which made sense, seeing as how Plimsouls leader Peter Case began his career in 1976 by co-founding the influential West Coast punk band the Nerves. Case had already started moving in a more melodically refined direction by the time he formed the Plimsouls in 1978 with guitarist Eddie Munoz, bassist Dave Pahoa and drummer Lou Ramirez. After establishing their credentials in L.A. clubs, the group released a strong independent EP, Zero Hour, in 1980. It did well regionally, and -- helped along by the New Wave craze -- the band quickly made the leap to the majors.
In their relatively brief time with Elektra and Geffen, the Plimsouls were hitless, despite two releases -- 1981's The Plimsouls and 1983's Everywhere at Once -- filled with a surplus of catchy, intelligent material and the inclusion of "A Million Miles Away" on the soundtrack to the teen flick Valley Girl. After the band's breakup, Case embarked on a solo career that was cursed with a fate he must have found painfully familiar -- critical praise, but commercial failure.
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Putting it bluntly, the Plimsouls were robbed the first time out, an injustice that may or may not be undone with the release of fresh Plimsouls music (a new CD, I'm told, is in the works). The slightly revamped '90s lineup includes original members Case, Munoz and Pahoa along with ex-Blondie drummer Clem Burke, who's replaced Ramirez. Live, that's a huge plus. Burke's Keith Moon-inspired flailing behind the set added a flamboyant, hard-driving dynamic to the Plimsouls showcase at South by Southwest this March, heightening the buzz over the return of these old kids on the block, as well as the expectations surrounding a comeback. Judging from their track record, they could use all the help they can get. -- Hobart Rowland
The Plimsouls perform at 9 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Tablet opens. Tickets are $8. For info, call 869-COOL.
Hadden Sayers -- When Hadden Sayers made up his mind to split from the Miss Molly camp, he plotted a course that would help him avoid being tagged as a poor man's Stevie Ray Vaughan. At first, he attempted a more middle American, John Mellencampish sound. Trouble is, by sprucing up his music with so many extras -- acoustic guitars, keyboards and the like -- he ended up sounding too much like John and not enough like Hadden. Sayers' next step was to trim back his band to a guitar/bass/drums trio and hit the road for a year. So it's not surprising that in his latest CD, Retrofutura -- the release of which he'll be celebrating at the Satellite Saturday -- Sayers reflects a leaner, meaner state of affairs. As the CD's title implies, Sayers digs back through his catalog of blues and rock influences as he clears the path for a fresh course. Retrofutura's spunk reflects a significant improvement in both Sayers' singing and song writing. And on guitar, his blend of styles and riffs in "No Way to Say Goodbye" and "Paper Moon" -- a pair of Stevie Ray-meets-Bad Company barn burners -- show that he's now confident enough to fashion songs from more than a single riff. Sayers has little problem giving this new stuff its just due live, either. At the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29. Tickets are $6. 869-COOL. (Greg Barr
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