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12/15/2009

McGee on Gary's new band

This article has just appeared in The Guardian's site and is written , of all people, by Alan McGee, former Libertines and Dirty Pretty Things manager (other than Oasis, Charlatans and a few others). McGee is an old fox and surely knows what he's talking about. As for his real motivations... he's not someone who does nothing for nothing. But he seems to have retired from business and maybe his appreciation for The Invasion Of... is sincere. Anyway, you can judge by yourself.

In early November, I interviewed Jon Bon Jovi for the Guardian. He was cool and a total gentlemen. When Jon mentioned he didn't know who Pete Doherty was, I suggested that the Babyshambles man was well worth hearing. In my opinion, both Carl Barat and Pete Doherty of the Libertines are iconic British artists, which is why I was drawn to working with them.
Last week, Libs drummer Gary Powell sent me demos of his new band, the Invasion of … I have to confess, I wasn't expecting the material to be on a par with that of his former bandmates. After all, how many rock drummers have gone on to great things? In this case, my assumption was wrong. Gary's new band are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Defying the sceptics, Gary's group will soon be basking in critical acclaim. The anticipation surrounding the Invasion of ... is already building like an encroaching storm. Prepare for a heavy downpour of righteous rock'n'roll.
With the druggy fallout of the Libertines and the recent split of Dirty Pretty Things in his rear-view mirror, Powell is steadily proving his own talent for powerful, brutally honest songs. Having thrown himself into the rock'n'roll maelstrom with both of his previous bands, the Invasion of ... takes a subtler, more reflective stance. Singer Robin Coombes (aka Farma G) resembles a streetwise Sly Stone on the anthemic Invasion of Venice. Often he comes across like one of roots reggae's more philosophical singers: "And you feel like you were sinking, with your head in your hands submerged in deep thinking." It's a road less travelled by both Doherty and Barat, and one that is full of compelling moments.
Musically, the Invasion of … are full of high-energy charge and fearless experimentation. Imagine High Time-era MC5 with a heady infusion of soulful dub. As each song progresses, you hear the tap-tap-tap of the drumsticks that remind you this is the band of a world-class drummer. But The Invasion of … offer more than just rock-action antics. For all the fury of the music, the lyrics reveal poetic melancholy and stoic wisdom.
Invasion of Venice presents a troubling narrative. With steely precision, Coombes dissects the debasement and distortions of rock'n'roll fame. On other songs he is full of burning indignation as he levels the fallacies of the music industry with a mighty lyrical blow: "Now we are the talk of the town/The word on the grapevine/Is nothing but cheap lies." The Invasion of ... blend punk-rock rage with the power of soul in a way I've not heard since Drag City released the amazing debut album (and lost punk masterpiece) by Detroit band Death.
For me, this music almost constitutes a sequel to the unwritten story of Death. Who would have thought the Libertines drummer would emerge as a major songwriting talent? But it's true. Just listen.

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