Monday, 6 April 2009

A Lover Not a Fighter

The newspapers tell us we live in scary times. Teenagers getting stabbed, shot, shanked. It’s all pretty standard now, right? It would be overly simplistic to suggest that all this new fangled music about homies popping caps in each others’ asses perpetuates violent behaviour among the youth. The truth is that shouty, shooty, sweary shit appeals to the kids because, rightly or wrongly, it has become their reality. You know you’re getting old when you start to long for a bygone time of pre-murder-a-minute innocence. For years Neil Diamond has been labelled an objectionable purveyor of saccharin, icky pop by all but your gushy, pant-flinging nana. And my God, what’s with those eyebrows? Yet when he did ‘Sweet Caroline’ at this years Glastonbury, there wasn’t a motionless arm in the field. Yes, a change is gonna come.
The crowd gathering to see 24 year old Boston singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed and his band ‘The True Loves’ at London’s Proud Gallery are not your regular skinny-jean fatigued army of trend-clones. Sure, there are some. But there are also folks who look like they’ve come to chaperone their kids or grandchildren. There’s also a chap who looks startlingly like Jesus. With his slick quiff and Teddy Boy threads, Reed looks like he’s just wandered off the set of ‘Happy Days’. His band look like they’ve just popped back from hot-wiring a car and taking it down the brass instrument shop for a ram-raid. When the Paperboy sings, the fresh faced boy next door sounds like he’s OD’d on sexy screech pills. Prescription, of course. He’s no Amy Winehouse. ‘(Doin’ The) Boom Boom’ is an homage to those Funk Soul classics of yore that weren’t allowed to be about fucking so pretended to be about dancing. Reed’s filthy cat call would seduce the most frigid of 60s censors. ‘Take My Love With You’ is both a secular hunger for a long distance lover and a Gospelly conversation with God. Eli’s like a TV Evangelist with a sex-fiend alter-ego. Jesus lookalike guy is certainly getting down and dirty. So are the 50 year olds. ‘I’m Gonna Getcha Back’ wouldn’t be such an explosive floorboard shaker if it was about winning back your Mrs. It’s about paying and playing her back with ‘that fine young thing, lives just down the street’. Naughty, and not all that Christ-yan, but altogether real.
Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the True Loves deserve to be front page news. They’re heralds bringing sex and love back from the soul-stirred past. If all the hate is getting to you, listen to them on your iPod next time you open the Metro. But not Neil Diamond. Someone might overhear.

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