The Nerves

Picture of The Nerves

One Way Ticket

The Nerves - One Way Ticket ©2008 Alive Naturalsound Records
1. One Way Ticket
2. Paper Dolls
3. Hanging On The Telephone
4. When You Find Out
5. Working Too Hard
6. Gimme Some Time
7. Walking Out On Love
8. Thing Of The Past
9. It's Hot Outside
10. Many Roads To Follow
11. Are You Famous?
12. Why Am I Lonely?
13. You Won't Be Happy
14. Any Day Now
15. Letter To G.
16. Come Back And Stay
17. I Need Your Love
18. Stand Back And Take A Good Look
19. Are You Famous?
20. Letter To G.

The Nerves were victims of bad timing. Coming up in the mid/late seventies, right as punk was taking off but not yet fully solidified as a musical movement, they played a scrappy, guitar oriented form of pop rock that was too stripped down and rough to be considered straight power pop, yet too polite and friendly to be punk. As it went, they never found their niche in either scene, and ultimately faded into obscurity after just one scant 7" record. However, Alive Records, not wanting to let a good band disappear completely (even thirty plus years after the fact), has put together a disc compiling all of The Nerves recorded output, and that album is One Way Ticket.

Because of the limited nature of the group's catalogue, One Way Ticket ends up being somewhat of an odds-and-ends discography, featuring nine studio tracks (the band's self-titled 7", and two songs that were supposed be a Bomp release that never panned out), a couple of live sounding tracks by Nerves-related bands, a live Nerves set, and a few demo cuts. However, given how scraped together this CD would seem, the vast majority of the songs on here are actually high-quality stuff, capturing a confident and energetic sounding band that seemed poised to take over the world, but for some reason never did.

The album opens with "One Way Ticket" and "Paper Dolls", the band's Bomp never-to-be single: two wonderfully fun, crunchy slices of uptempo rock'n'roll, replete with peppy drum work, killer vocal hooks, and great melodies. These are also very concise musical statements, containing everything you need to keep you bobbing your head and singing along, but dropping out right by the two minute mark (the album's entire twenty songs spans just about forty minutes on the dot). The following four tracks of studio material represent The Nerves' lonely 7", sold by the group out of their van while out on tour. Recorded earlier than the Bomp tracks (in 1976, to be exact), the fact that these songs are generally just a tad bit slower than the first two numbers may reflect punk's growing influence on the band as they wrote their later material. Whatever the case may be, these four songs are fantastic simple, catchy, melodic, and boasting some of the most pleasant vocal harmonies you're likely to find in some obscure power-popish band that only released one 7" back in the mid seventies. "Hanging On The Telephone" in particular is real endearing number. With its charmingly uneven vocals and warm, strummy delivery, it predated the sound The Replacements would become famous for by close to a decade. "Gimme Some Time" is another particularly sweet tune about a lovers' quarrel blown out of proportion. Obviously, these aren't the sort of songs that are going to incite one to rise up and overthrow the government or protest harmful WTO policies, but for intelligently written pop hooks that won't quit, these guys are hard to top.

The remaining tracks are either live or demos, and all (understandably) contain rougher sound quality than the studio stuff. That said, for being recorded sometime in the seventies by guys who were by no means rich, the production is surprisingly good, and only in the case of two songs (the acoustic, but unfortunately muffled "Many Roads To Follow" and the vocals waving in and out of the otherwise well-written "Letter G.") is the sound so bad as to hinder the enjoyment of the music. I've certainly heard plenty of worse live recordings, and impressively, of all the live/demo material, there is not a single repeat track from any of the first six recordings and only two repeat cuts on the entire disc. Thus, these (mostly) live recordings provide us not only with a snapshot of this band in action onstage, but also gleam us with some insight as to what may have been if The Nerves had stuck around long enough to put out that third (much less aborted second) release. And to that degree, it really is too bad The Nerves did end up dissolving so prematurely; compositionally speaking, the songs on this portion of the disc sound right up to par with the proper studio recorded opening tracks.

Sadly, the clean equivalents of these songs were never to come, the trio dissolved, and that was (up until now, anyway) that. However, like Minor Threat and Talulah Gosh (to name two examples of bands that sound nothing like this group), The Nerves were a band who had a relatively small recorded output, and yet never came up with anything that was less than high quality when they came to put sound to tape. One Way Ticket may not make The Nerves a household name, but at least with its release their music is now widely available to the public in a nonbootlegged format. My advice is to take advantage of this. All in all, One Way Ticket is a fantastic collection by a band that is truly undeservedly obscure. Back when the only way to attain these recordings was through the band members themselves, perhaps this obscurity was inevitable. These days however, if you miss out, you've only got yourself to blame. Get on it!

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 08/2009

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