Due to the overemphasis on celebrity and the obsession this society has on popular culture, there seems to have been an overabundance of retrospectives and `Where are they now’ entertainment news segments. Everyone seemingly wants to know what happened to the casts of their favorite ’80s shows, specifically the ones that found its actors falling on hard times (i.e. Diff’rent Strokes). In an eerily prescient move, or one that was somewhat mocking the entire idea of nostalgia, the British band the Libertines presented as the last song on their last album, “What Became of the Likely Lads?” The song was cheeky in that the highly publicized (at least in England) group only had two albums (this one included) under their belts before their eventual dissolution thanks to Pete Doherty’s overwhelming addictions, and a rumoured jealousy springing from a possible relationship between the two frontmen.
Pete Doherty’s antics are still regular British tabloid fare, and those stories completely overshadow any musical accomplishments made by any of the former members of the group, Doherty included. Up the Bracket and The Libertines were probably the most heralded one-two punch of British albums since Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, but since the band’s demise, it’s been all Doherty and his drugs (and sometimes Kate Moss) all the time. Very rarely does anyone talk about Johnny Borrell and his early days in the Libertines before starting his own band, Razorlight. Rarely still do fans talk about Yeti, the band formed by bassist John Hassall. But there has been press on the post-Britpop glimmer twins bands, Babyshambles, featuring Doherty, and Dirty Pretty Things, featuring Carl Barât and drummer Gary Powell.
Because of Doherty’s much publicized run-ins with the law, drug use and supermodel affairs, his band has received the most attention, and somewhat unjustly so. Doherty is surely one of those mad geniuses, with art fueled by chemicals, but that kind of talent can be unreliable. Even Hemingway and Fitzgerald had some stinkers. The truth is, based upon the strength of the debut album from the Dirty Pretty Things, Waterloo to Anywhere, it appears as if the true guiding musical force behind the Libertines was Barât. The album is helped out by the bass playing of Didz Hammond, formerly of the Cooper Temple Clause, and Anthony Rossomando, who took Doherty’s place after his departure from the Libertines. As an unheralded fifth member of the band, there is producer Dave Sardy, who shaped the sound of the record as he did with Oasis, Helmet, Hot Hot Heat and Wolfmother.
Waterloo to Anywhere is a fun and blistering thirty-six minutes of post-punk aggression combined with Britpop charm and accessibility. Tracks like the first three top 40 UK singles “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” “Deadwood” and “Wondering” rock like the Clash, bounce like the Jam and shout `British pop’ like Suede, the Smiths and Blur. It’s no wonder that this album reached the top five of the British album charts. Those who miss the bygone days of the Blur and Oasis battles, gritty guitar punk with a melody and an accented snarl would best be served by going out and picking up Waterloo to Anywhere, if just to hear the amazing track (I can’t believe it’s not a single!), “Last of the Small Town Playboys.” (Talk about trying to mirror Morrissey!)