The Nerves: One Way Ticket

thenerves_onewayticketThe headwaters of mid-70s power pop

The Nerves – Peter Case, Paul Collins and Jack Lee – issued only one 4-song EP during their three year tenure, but that 1976 7” flew brilliantly in the face of then-dominant arena rock as well as the back-to-basics punk paradigm trailing in the Ramones’ wake. The Nerves mixed the pop melodics of the Beatles, Big Star, Raspberries and Rubinoos with the emerging DIY aesthetic to create music that had garage-rock intensity layered with the craft of AM-radio hooks. The EP served as a template for all three members’ subsequent solo careers, and drew a rock ‘n’ roll path that paralleled New Wave pop without surrendering to its badly aging musical affectations.

The EP was self-financed and thinly distributed, making it a collector’s item even at the time of its mid-70s issue. Two of its tracks, Lee’s “Hanging on the Telephone” and Case’s “When You Find Out” turned up on Rhino’s D.I.Y: Come Out and Play – American Power Pop I (1975-1978), and the previously unreleased “One Way Ticket” was included in the box set Children of Nuggets in 2005. The entire 4-song EP, along with the Plimsoul’s Zero Hour, and Jack Lee’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 turned up on the 1992 grey-market French CD That’s Totally Pop, but as Peter Case explains in this set’s liner notes, this is the Nerve’s first official full-length release. Included are the original four songs, two by Jack Lee, one by Case and one by Collins, augmented by a pair of tracks (Peter Case’s “One Way Ticket” and Jack Lee’s “Paper Dolls”) that were meant to be the EP’s follow-up on Greg Shaw’s Bomp label.

Paul Collins’ “Walking Out on Love,” which he later re-recorded with The Beat, is heard here in a frantic post-Nerves/pre-Beat version by Collins, Case and a pick-up guitarist. Case’s “Thing of the Past,” written for the Nerves, is performed live by an early version of the Plimsouls, and Jack Lee’s immediate post-Nerves sound is documented with the rockabilly-punk “It’s Hot Outside.” A rough demo of the Case-Collins “Many Roads to Follow” is sung to strummed acoustic guitars, combining the power of the British Invasion and Everly-styled harmonies. Demos of the group’s live staples “Are You Famous?” and “Letter to G.” show Jack Lee also had no shortage of fine material.

Also included are eight tracks recorded live on the group’s 1977 cross-country tour. The sound is listenable bootleg quality, which is better for getting a sense of the Nerves’ energy than a truly satisfying listening experience. No matter, the original EP is worth the CD’s full price, and the post-EP and post-Nerves tracks are great bonuses. Case moved on to form the Plimsouls, recording the brilliant debut Zero Hour and two immediate follow-up LPs; Collins formed The Beat, carrying on the Nerves pop-rock sound with the group’s eponymous debut; Lee unexpectedly found commercial success when Blondie covered the Nerves’ “Hanging on the Telephone,” and subsequently released a pair of albums in the 1980s. But it all started here – and all lovers of power pop should snap this up while it’s available! [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Listen to “When You Find Out”
The Nerves’ MySpace Page

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