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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Code Blue - s/t

Name: Code Blue
Album: s/t
Style: Rock / New Wave
Similar Bands: A’s, XTC, Police, Who
"One-Word" Review: Jitter-Rock
Based Out Of: LA, CA

Label: Warner Bros. Warner Communications
Code Blue: Cover & Insert
Code Blue: Back & Insert
Code Blue: Record

Code Blue (1980)
  1. Whisper/Touch 2:33
  2. Modern Times 3:01
  3. Hurt 2:59
  4. Face to Face 3:14
  5. Burning Bridges 2:52
  6. Somebody Knows 2:05/
  7. Other End of Town 2:41
  8. Where Am I 4:06
  9. Settle For Less 2:44
  10. The Need 4:29
  11. Paint By Numbers 3:18

Album Rating (1-10):

Members & Other Bands:
Dean Chamberlain - Guitars, Lead Vox (Motels, Orange Wedge, Skin)
Gary Tibbs - Bass & Vox (Vibrators, Roxy Music)
Randall Marsh - Drums & Vox
Nigel Gray - Producer
Michael Ostin - Re-recorded & Re-mixed
Mike Stone - Re-recorded & Re-mixed
Lenny Waronker - Executive Producer
Russ Titelman - Executive Producer
Tom Sheehan - Photos
Hybridesign - Back Photo & inner sleeve
Rikki Farr - Management

Unknown-ness: I never heard of these guys. I picked up the album based on its sparce cover imagery of the band & their styles and personalities on their faces. All that coupled with the great name, the year, and the short song titles led me to believe that this would be a potentially great album of new wave punk, from the early 80's.

Album Review: The album begins with a tremendous burst of quick, jittery new wave rock. As good as the A’s best, “Whisper/Touch” has all the urgency of the late 70’s early 80’s music that will never be re-created. The fast guitar loops, the bouncy bass, the hurried voice, all stand out on this explosively short first track. “Modern Times” is more melodic and slower, but just as good of a song. The musical hook is repetitive and catchy. In the chorus, the lead is backed up by a group of voices. It still has the start stop guitar style, but is just a little slower paced. “Hurt” contains a dark bass line, but is a similar driving song to “Modern Times.” It is not as structured as the first two songs, as there is really only one section to the song. “Face to Face” is a fantastic slow song. The vocals are very sincere, calm and smooth. But they come to life with emotion and passion during the chorus, backed up with a loud guitar with an extremely catchy melody. It feels like something out of a classic oldies vault. The next song, “Burning Bridges” gives a nod Police’s ‘Roxanne’ with its ska bass and guitar. The style suits the band, and it is a shame that this is the only reggae influenced song on the album. “Somebody Knows” is an all-out, jittery, call and respond rock song. It is very short, but it still finds time to fit a strong rock guitar solo. The repetitive short bass hook is very mechanical.

“Other End of Town” starts the second side with almost as much energy as “Whisper/ Touch,” fed by the rhythm guitar line, which sounds almost like bass. It too has the fast pace, jittery unsureness, mimicking how your nerves make you feel walking down a dark street, expecting anything. “Where I Am” also follows side one’s formula, as a slower, but still melodic start/stop guitar and bass driven song. It is, however, somewhat dark. “Settle for Less” has the metallic sounding guitar, structure and pace similar to XTC. The chorus is short, repetitive and again, extremely catchy. Compared to the rest of the album, “The Need” feels like filler. It is still a really good song, but it feels unessential. The bass line is short and catchy, the guitar is just jangely noise seemingly placed randomly over top. The chorus is a repetitive chant of ‘the need.’ The song reminds me a forgettable number out of the Who’s catalogue. There is a long musical break that is filled with a silence from the louder instruments. It feels disjointed in an unsure, rather than positive way. “Paint By Numbers” is the last song, and fits into the jittery fast category of their songs. Where it starts off as a rock song, it picks up the pace quickly and continues to the end, filled with short little bass and guitar hooks in bursts.
This is a very good album. It could have been released last week and still been relevant. But the production, which makes it really stand out, is that unfaltering 70-80’s new wave rock, which is my favorite time line in music history. I’ve said it before on the A’s review, but it never hurts to reiterate how good that period was. The same words I’ve been using throughout the review come up: jittery, urgent, and bouncy to describe the teen angst and music that followed of the time. It is an endless reservoir of pure I can do anything energy. It is bands like this, and the idea that there are many more from that time period that are unheard of that keeps me going with these reviews.

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