Powerpop CD Review: The Late Show Live In Concert
I’m a slave to jangle-pop. Ever since I first heard The Byrds, the sound of chiming guitars sent me into a sort of psychedelic bliss. I don’t remember where I was when Kennedy was shot but you can be damn sure I know where I was when I first heard The Hollies’ “Needles & Pins”, the first of many vinyl purchases I made as a child and one that would represent the beginning of a life-long obsession with guitar driven powerpop.
Back in the 80’s I lived a couple hours out of Philly – no where near Indiana – but a friend sent me a cassette tape of a band from the Hoosier state. I was an east coast snob so I figured it had to suck. I could not have been more wrong. Beautiful harmonies, great melodies, and hooky choruses that would repeat in my head. And oh those guitars. It was a regular jangle-fest. The band was The Late Show and the LP, entitled Portable Pop, found its way onto my turntable repeatedly. Newly re-released in 2012 on CD, those who missed Don Main & Co. the first go-round will have another chance to discover them.
From the accounts I’ve read, The Late Show were one of the many bands that fell thru the cracks mostly due to questionable management. And while I never got a chance to see or hear them live, Trashy Creatures Records is releasing a live set of tunes, mostly pulled from two different radio shows in ’79 and ’80.
Often a band’s live performance doesn’t live up to expectations we place on them due to their studio acumen. Not a problem here as this disc lives up to those expectations…and then some. “Take a Chance”, the likely single from the LP, starts the live set off with a bang. The Beatles and Byrds influence is evident throughout but particularly on “Won’t Mind Waiting”. “Look Who’s Laughing Now” reminds me a bit of The Knack as well as a number of other songs on the disc. Although I’m not comparing the two, one could look at The Knack as being the bad boy version of The Late Show, The Stones to The late Show’s Beatles. Doug Fieger’s Eddie Haskel to Don Main’s Wally Cleaver.
If you’re familiar with The Late Show and their first (and only released) LP, Portable Pop, you’ll want to pick up a copy here. For those uninitiated, you’ll want to check out the release of Portable Pop, available here.
And like so many bands of the 80’s, The Late Show is having a bit of a renaissance. The band’s lead singer and main songwriter, Don Main, is the owner of the Piccinni’s restaurant chain. No doubt that his success as a restaurateur provides him with the means to revisit the whole music career thing. And that’s a very good thing as evidenced by 2012’s excellent CD by Hot Freak Nation, a joint effort between Main and another songwriter unaffiliated with The Late Show. We reviewed Hot Freak Nation’s Lifetime to Lifetime. read all about it here. It really isn’t reminiscent of The Late Show as it boasted influences as diverse as The Clash and Pavement.
Both Hot Freak Nation and The Late Show are worth your attention. Pick one. After you’ve had a chance to hear it I’m betting you won’t be able to resist picking up the other.
In the meantime, here’s a video to whet your appetite…