When I’m in a record store, looking for something new to listen to, sometimes all I’m left with is the cover of the album to choose from. It’s a primitive method, I know, but sometimes that is the only way that any of the bazillion choices available to me catches my attention. If I haven’t yet heard of the particular band I’m looking at, the only way I’ll listen to it is if it has a decent looking cover to it. How else besides hearsay and record labels can one pick out a future favorite band?
When I first saw the cover of the forty-fives, it caught my eyes, drawing me in immediately. The cover itself is a picture shot with a nostalgic, old yellowish tint to it. The girl in the picture holds a bright blue eight-track player in her hand. The picture is clear, and attractive to the naked eye. But it really is a fifty-fifty toss-up as to whether or not the album sounds as good as the cover looks.
The Forty-Fives sound like straight-up old-fashioned rock `n’ roll. And by rock `n’ roll, I mean `60s garage bands like The Sonics and MC5. They sound like the kind of band that translates better live, therefore resulting in Phish-like legions of fans. High Life High Volume sounds like a mix of southern rock and The Who — lots of upbeat songs, for foot-slapping and hand-tapping on the steering wheel as you cruise with the gang. High Life High Volume has some great guest appearances, such as Mick Collins of The Dirtbombs. However, just because a great singer from a good band helps out with a song for your album does not make you, yourself, a better artist.
The front cover can reveal the identity of an album. Sometimes the cover is just as good as the record itself, but in the case of the Forty-Fives, the cover design is much better looking than the album sounds. But some of the songs on High Life High Volume were just painful to listen to all the way through. Songs like “Go Ahead and Shout,” “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” and “Too Many Miles” are excessively long with gratuitous organ solos and repetitive vocals and beats over and over that just kill to listen to. Not to mention the lack of differentiation between songs. Which is fine. Really. Sometimes I dig that about some bands. But I can’t sit in one or two settings and listen to the whole album in its entirety, when all of it sounds the same. Here is my advice to you about High Life High Volume: avoid this album if you are one of the following if you’re on Ritalin, don’t like repetition or just plain hate garage rock.
MC5 – Kick Out the Jams
Jet – Get Born
Interpreters – Back in the USSA