Ah music retail a concept growing quainter by the day and soon to be as smitten into redundancy as elevator operation. Every generation feels the sting of becoming anachronistic and we all respond with our own particular band of bitterness. We lament, we protest and finally we either become a cranky holdout or we acquiesce.
“You guys wanna hear a great song?” asked a music retail lifer who works for one of the surviving stores in my hometown. We (my fellow throw-back with whom I do a weekly Saturday Rock Walk to seek musical treasure) did. He played us “Your Love Alone is Not Enough by the Manic Street Preachers and we each had to buy the album. A High Fidelity moment perhaps but a communal one, which is something transferring bits per second can never quite replicate.
The Tone were a communal experience. I walked down into The Cellar (another retail casualty of downloading) the subterranean home of deliberately ugly sub-genres and an employee we’ll call…Hedberg said, “You gotta hear this!” Damn! Exploding guitars, trade-off vocals and those supple ska-inflected beats – this is a high. It’s Jam-Clash-SLF again, I know, but they still found their own tiny patch of space in the musical universe. The Tone actually were English and were led by Thatcher on Acid’s Ben Corrigan as well as Dan Bernstein and featured the minimally credited Bob and Paul on bass and drums respectively. Everybody sings, which promises something great in a band plus the fully credited Dave “Fingers” Eve adds some rippling organ. Twelve songs (almost of which were singles) and not one that should’ve been thrown into a weighted bag and dropped into the river. “Pauline”, which enumerates all of their influence including Pauline Murray of the Selecter and the less-than-celebrated Jilted John (which explains the cockney-novelty cover song “Bloody”) is the album’s raison d’etre and high water mark. Anachronistic but not tainted by bitterness.
Take the Tone - you’ll have no more regrets than you already do.
East Lansing Michigan 10th April 1978
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