Brakes – Rock is Dodelijk
Readers of this magazine should, (if they have paid attention over the last 5 or so years), be under no illusions as to what we think about Brakes. So it is with great pleasure that we are able to tell you that this, their live LP (culled from a couple of shows in 2008 & 2009) is an absolute belter, and one that captures the band in their purest, most undiluted form. Simply put, if you are to own one Brakes LP, then this is the one.
Comprising a set list that covers all three studio L.P.’s to date, Rock is Dodelijk is brimful of the fizz and off-the-cuff fun that characterizes the band’s live performances. Live, Brakes are loose, playful and a little bit more psychotic than any listen to their insightful "country punk" studio LP’s would suggest. Eamon’s howl is more pronounced live, though it’s a shame that this normally urbane and chatty front-man wasn’t recorded between songs. Still we have a marvellous, “Ollie Reed” moment before the storming and gnomic Huevos Rancheros… And while we are on the subject of Mr. Hamilton: what is also noticeable is how prominent the lyrics are on here, there were times when a listen to a track like Don’t Take Me to Space (Man) or What’s In It For Me? prompted a re-evaluation of precisely what yer man is on about...
The other noticeable thing is that the chosen “set” has captured pretty well on the nail how good and confident a live act they’ve become. They were always extremely competent musicians from the word go, but now, with a few strenuous years of gigging under their belts, they really sound phenomenal, especially as they approach re-creating their material as a fresh challenge each night, (check out both versions of Hey, Hey as proof). The thunder and elasticity of the rhythm section is perfectly captured on here, as are Tom’s pedal-tastic heroics; as heard on a brilliant Isabel and Disco Party.
Now, the live rock LP - from bands outside of the heavy metal spectrum - has a justifiably bad reputation. There are classics of the “genre”, Bowie’s Stage, the Bunnymen’s Swedish tour bootlegs, Roxy’s Viva and Live at Leeds spring immediately to mind, but on the whole I can’t play these kinds of records as entertainment, even when it’s an act I love. Rock is Dodelijk is one of those LPs that may well become such a favourite, mind. Once again, I entreat you, even if you don’t own anything by them, or haven’t really connected with their music to date; you really need to give this record a spin.
Words: Richard Foster