While I can still tell you how much I paid for the first Beat (there is only ONE “The Beat,” and they are NOT ENGLISH) album in the Fall of 1979 ($4.59 + tax at Pipe Dreams), let the record show that the second album was spotty and the mini-LP was pretty bad, so why exactly anybody anywhere thinks we need to call what’s more or less a Paul Collins solo album a Paul Collins Beat album a quarter century after the fact is well beyond my comprehension. I mean, fuckin-A, this isn’t a Beat album! This is some singer/songwriter dude ((who lives in Spain now, apparently)) calling a few friends over to back him up on some hope recording project! Most of these songs aren’t Beat-ish in the least—”Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes” certainly ain’t gonna make anyone forget “Rock ‘n’ Roll Girl,” that’s for DAMN sure—so I fail to grasp the compulsion to brand this The Beat at anything other than a marketing level. Hell, “Paco and Juan” is blatant Dire Straits emulation, why didn’t they just call it “Mark Knopfler’s Beat” and be done with it? The greatest tragedy (I think) is that I can hear a few of these songs—”Helen” or even the slower “More Than Yesterday”—in my head, as REAL Beat songs, recorded and produced a la 1979, all snappy and punchy and rockin’ and what-not—as opposed to being played all laid back in some dude’s living room, with brushes on the snares and crap. Bah humbug. The second half of the record descends into a surfeit of balladry, exposing the fact that Mr. Collins’ once nasal, reedy and punchy voice has wound up a sort of half-hoarse lounge croak, which is sad for all parties concerned. At the end of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes,” he ends by singing “You got the beat! You got the beat!” Uh, no. We don’t. BEST SONG: “Helen” BEST SONG TITLE: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I forgive the fact that Paul appears to want to rhyme “guitar” with “Connecticut” in the song “Bobby,” because I like that song.
–norb (Get Hip)