Alda ReserveLove Goes On
Released 1979 on Sire
Reviewed by Lawrence, 09/03/2005ce
I found my copy at a Monroe Avenue yard sale, although I've seen it in the cutout sections of the local record stores. Nothing exciting regarding the cover art; band logo scrawled in the kind of kindergarden-paint I remember as a child, and the token NY Punk-style picture of the band on a city street at night for the back cover. Although that photo looks a bit creepy with one member looking like Gary Numan crossed with a storeroom mannaquin. I remember Dave Marsh panned this album on one of the Rolling Stone Record Guides, so I had to get it anyways!
Of course Dave Marsh line was something like "With their bad poetry and tinkly electric piano they could be considered the Doors of the NY punk scene. But if bad poetry and tinkly electric piano was all there was to the Doors, they would've disappeared as quickly as Alda Reserve has." First off the lyrics seem like ordinary lyrics and there's little pretention towards 'high art' as far as I can tell. And the singer/keyboardist Brad Ellis sounds nothing like Morrison and his Fender Rhodes pounding is hardly anything like Ray Manzarak either. In fact it reminds me more of the original first Misfits single, when the band didn't yet have a guitarist and Danzig hammered away at a Fender Rhodes to make up the slack. You can also say Ellis also sounds like Danzig in crooning-mode crossed with an Elvis impersonator...
But Alda Reserve weren't exactly like the Misfits really. Well surely not quite as heavy or noisy. They reminded me more of those kind of bar-bands I remember from my college years (late 80s), often having a keyboard player with a Rhodes, Clavinova or cheap dimestore Casio. Although Alda Reserve had lingering 70s punk grit under their fingernails, thanks to Mark Suall's overdriven sub-Lenny Kaye guitar. Also Matthew 'Chips' Patuto had that clunky drumming style I imagine someone with that nickname would have.
That's pretty much the impression you have with the first track "Some Get Away", complete with that rather nerdy lyric "Sometimes you know I really don' really think so...", although I tend to think it's part of the charm. The third and fourth tracks -- "Cure Me" and "Pain Is Mine" -- sound annoyingly like Eddie and the Hot Rods with guest keyboards by Michael McDonald, but as weak as those tracks are, the punk-grunginess makes up for it at least. "Overnight Jets" is weird; like a Dire Straits song played on 78 speed (bringing me back to the 'bar-band' analogy...)
I tend to think the second side is the stronger part of the album though. Starting with "Ancient Lies" and sounding like early Blondie. (I could imagine Deborah Harry singing this.) What's particularily interesting is the lyrics sound quite territorial, mentioning various NYC places such as the Grand Hotel, Camelot, etc. Followed by "That Was Summertime", also sounding of Blondie and has the air of innocence associated with summer songs.
They save the best songs for last. Why don't they write love songs like "Whiter Than White" or "Love Goes On" anymore? There's more going on in both than the typical Goo Goo Dolls ballad. Particularily "Whiter Than White" in its urgent, gritty and melodramatic beauty. Hear the sudden thunderous attack of piano while Suall's ascending guitars rain down over everything. One of the best albums you'll find in the cutout bin.