Saturday, 9 March 2013

The best of the Bouncing Souls

Went to see the Bouncing Souls last night at the Garage in London, with my friends Pat and Mark. The Bouncing Souls have been together for 24 years and are getting a bit long in the tooth, have a tendency to be rubbish live, and have made more crap albums now than good ones. It's hard to explain, but I still love them.

It's 1998, I'm 18, it's the end of the summer and I'm staying on this guy Riz's couch in his cramped New York apartment, and he says to me 'do you wanna see the Bouncing Souls tonight?' I'm like, 'I've never heard the Bouncing Souls' and he says, 'you will love the Bouncing Souls'. It's a homecoming show for them at the Continental at the top of St Marks, and they're recording it for a live album ('Tie One On'). They've been touring their self-titled third album (the 'Guinness album', so-called because they ripped off the Guinness brand for the front cover), and are playing for the first time some of the songs that would appear on Hopeless Romantic - their best album and the last with original drummer Shal Khichi. And Riz is right - they are fucking unbelievable and I immediately love the Bouncing Souls. Months later, Hopeless Romantic comes out, and Riz calls me and says excitedly 'there's a picture of you at the show at the Continental on the inlay card!' And again, he's right, there I am looking dumbfounded amidst a crowd of true believers who are going nuts.

Over the past 15 years I've fallen in and out of love with New York, and been disappointed many times by the Bouncing Souls - live and on record - but nothing tarnishes that memory of seeing them live for the first time, nor the feelings that I associate with their early records. Mark and Pat know what I mean, we talked about it after the show over posh cherry beers (the kind where the bottle comes wrapped in paper). How times have changed. For some reason it bothers me that I can't find out online what happened to Shal. Apparently, not long after we saw them at the Astoria on Charing Cross Road (like the Continental, now long-gone), Shal tuned out and turned off; despite their attempts, the others couldn't get through to him - couldn't work out what was wrong - and had no choice but to ask him to leave. He wasn't a good drummer, but his limitations helped make them so unique.

Incidentally, they were great last night, and new album 'Comet' isn't bad either. I doubt they'll ever capture again the youthful, funny but sentimental spirit of the first four albums, but you can't blame them for trying.

So, because I love lists, here are my top ten Bouncing Souls songs. Ole!

True Believers
Kate is Great
Single Successful Guy
The Freaks, Nerds, and Romantics
The Whole Thing
These Are The Quotes From Our Favourite 80s Movies
Holiday Cocktail Lounge
East Side Mags

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