Rock and Roll Circus Records, Madrid, Spain
July 12, 2018
Pulling the listener into an album with a drum roll like the one at the beginning of Prisoner of War is not an easy task, nor is it within the reach of most common bands. Because the song hones in on the essence and heritage of bands like The Records, Blue Ash, or The Infidels, with top notch harmonies and a monumental sound from such a small chorus of voices, it manages to make your hair stand on end as if by magic.
The Chicago Spindles embody the Power Pop musical style that is lately and unfairly undervalued. Yes, that subgenre of rock music that a lot of current musicians seem to currently shy away from like cats caught in the rain.
Following Prisoner of War, the Spindles deliver a "fantabulous" cover of Look Through Any Window, first popularized by the historic Hollies, showing these guys know how to come up with something outstanding hidden under their arms. It is clear that these guys know perfectly well the ground they are walking on, the subjects they cover, and the musical sounds that are in their comfort zone. And it like this throughout every minute of this precious album properly entitled, Past and Present. That the shadow of the Beatles is very long is in evidence here and clear for any "popster" with two fingers in front of his eyes to see.
But the sound of Almost the Same and Young Heart also conjures up the sonic spectrums of one of my biggest weaknesses of youth - The Shoes. How many people today remember the essential and underappreciated authors of the immortal Present Tense? Like, you've never heard of that masterpiece from '79? Well, you're talking, my friend. Transparent voices, almost liquid and underground to transmit those feelings of anguish, surrender, and drama so typical of the age, accompanied by sharp-edged guitars.
But the Spindles are not exactly little boys and their veteran appearance presents them as an experienced and seasoned group trained in many battles of the bands in lost gambling dens of the immense North American West. I Want My Baby Back and Peace with the Past are new allegories similar to those of the Great Buildings of Danny Wilde and Phil Solem, before they transformed themselves into The Rembrandts. Beginning to be Your Friend would thrill the Gin Blossoms with those Americana/Jangle fragrances that convince and move me equally. Annette represents another decisive moment of the album, where “Power” imposes itself on “Pop”, after the titanic struggle between the rhythm section and electric guitars that are doubled in a final apotheosis. If I Fall in Love recalls the Searchers in their rejuvenated stage for the Sire label, when music’s New Wave resurrected them from their twilight decline. Santa Fe is a rocking adaptation of the original made by the Spindles' friends, the Elvis Brothers, who also personally support the band by playing on several of the album’s tracks.
It is clear that albums like Past and Present and their beautiful graphic design do not overtly pursue commercial ambition, nor go beyond the very healthy intention of creating excitement for the rapidly shrinking audience of guitar/pop fans to enjoy. But the latter is achieved 100% with these twelve pearls that shine like twelve suns. Ideal songs for the listener to try to hum along to. Melodies written for perfect vocal choruses like those of Lennon and McCartney, while playing air guitar with your invisible Rickenbacker, without missing a single note. I would miss more. Past and Present drinks and makes us drink from the fountain of eternal youth. Bravo for the Spindles and their "labour of love.” Mission accomplished.