Album review of The Plimsouls’ ‘Beach Town Confidential’

By John M. Borack

The Plimsouls
Beach Town Confidential
Alive (ALIVE0128-2)
****

“Beach Town Confidential” captures a stunning live performance by power-pop purveyors The Plimsouls at the band’s pinnacle, during the summer of 1983. Recorded at the now-defunct Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, Calif., the incendiary 17-song set finds the foursome charging through a particularly inspired set of hook-filled originals and some smartly-chosen covers.

The Plimsouls Beach Town Confidential

The Plimsouls Beach Town Confidential

Led by the passionately soulful vocals of Peter Case and the slashing, melodic guitar work of Eddie Munoz (complemented by a tight rhythm section in bassist Dave Pahoa and drummer Lou Ramirez), “Beach City Confidential” offers the best sound of any Plimsouls live recording that has surfaced to date. (It was produced and mixed by Case from the 24-track masters.) In addition, the set list provides a fine overview of the band’s best-known originals from their two full-length albums (including the alternative radio biggie “A Million Miles Away,” “Zero Hour,” “Now” and “Oldest Story in the World”), alongside some rarities (such as the smoldering surf instrumental “Hobo,” which was originally released as a B-side).

As powerful as the originals are here – and the readings of “Oldest Story in the World” and “How Long Will it Take” positively smolder – the band’s choice of covers is where Beach City Confidential really shines. Many of these have never appeared on any Plimsouls release until now; Moby Grape’s “Fall On You” and the Creation’s “Making Time” are particularly well-suited to the Plimsouls’ sound, and the band amps ‘em up a bit, throws ‘em into overdrive and makes them their own. Versions of the Everly Brothers’ “Price of Love” (with guest vocals by the Williams Brothers) and the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Jumpin’ in the Night” (with Keith Streng of the Fleshtones sitting in on guitar) are also quite fine, and showcase the Plimsouls’ love of ‘60s pop and classic power pop, respectively.

A quote from Bomp Records’ Greg Shaw graces the disc’s booklet and says, in part: “…[The Plimsouls’] music didn’t rely on volume, power chords or showmanship; its strength came from brilliant songs, crafted in the purest tradition of great rock & roll.” Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than on this outstanding effort. www.alivenergy.com

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