ORIGINAL PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUGUST 15, 1991
By Steve Newton
Men Without Hats immortalized the idea “You can dance if you want to.” I dunno—sometimes I just can’t dance. But I was a regular dancin’ fool at the Commodore last Friday (August 9), and the decision to get up there and make Ed Grimley look like John Travolta was outta my hands. It was all up to those free-wheeling madmen from San Diego, the Paladins.
The rootsy gut-bucket boogie of primo guitarist Dave Gonzalez, stand-up bassist Thomas Yearsley, and bang-on drummer Brian Fahey was undeniable, whether in the form of their original West Coast jump blues tunes (I was jumpin’, too) or dangerous covers by the likes of Otis Rush (“Keep On Lovin’ Me Baby”).
But as if the Paladins weren’t enough of a leg-warmer, they had to go and get former Blasters lead guitarist Dave Alvin to come out near the end of the set and tear the place up with a couple of barn-burners he wrote for that band’s debut album: “Marie Marie” and “American Music”. We’re talkin’ serious aerobic workout, the kind your thighs remind you of two nights later.
But the Alvin-boosted Paladins weren’t the only reason to rejoice last Friday, because fellow Californians the Walking Wounded were also there, preheating the frying-pan dance floor. Although they’d been stuck at the border for five hours and had to race the clock to play to a half-empty room, the band came through with a courageous set of poison-tongued diatribes delivered from a rock ’n’ roll soapbox.
And between tunes of greed, poverty, love, and war, leader Jerry Giddens took well-placed pot-shots at Axl Rose (the poor wittle guy who doesn’t like having his picture taken unless he’s getting paid for it) and the Walking Wounded’s own fedora-clad roadie, who Giddens blamed for dressing sharper than the band itself. The roadie did look cool, all right, but this was no fashion show—just a jeans ’n’ t-shirt journey into the outer reaches of gritty, folk-tinged politico-rock.
Too bad there weren’t more folks along for the ride.