From the vintage front cover photo to the electric guitars, winsome melodies and lyrical longing, neither Paul Collins nor his music seems to be aging. Having broken in with the Nerves in the mid-70s, and more prominently with the Beat by decade’s end, Collins moved on to explore country rock on a pair of solo albums in the ’90s. His pop-rock roots reemerged on 2004’s Flying High and 2008’s Ribbon of Gold, and he explicitly reclaimed his crown with 2010’s Jim Diamond-produced King of Power Pop. This second collaboration with Diamond expands on the sonics of the first – vocals ragged with rock ‘n’ roll passion, guitars that slam and chime, and a rhythm section that makes sure you feel the backbeat.
Collins’ writes of rock ‘n’ roll itself on “Feel the Noise” and euphemistically with “I Need My Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but his primary muse remains, as it started out nearly 40 years ago, women. The eighth-note pop of “Only Girl” and “Little Suzy” bring to mind the irrepressible desire of the Beat’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Girl,” and Collins turns positively carnal on “Baby I Want You.” The great mid-tempo numbers of Bobby Fuller, Gary Lewis and the Beatles are echoed in “With a Girl Like You,” and “Don’t Know How to Treat a Lady” riffs on the Beatles’ “You’re Going to Lose That Girl.”
The set’s lone cover is a Clash-inspired take on the Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” that fits with the originals, and the disc closes with the ’50s-inspired “Walk Away.” Throughout the album, Collins captures everything from the chiming craft of Buddy Holly to the raw energy of the Ramones, and both at once with “Baby I’m in Love With You.” Those who’ve been soaking in music delivered by advertising, television and film, may be surprised at the total lack of apology with which Collins and his producer deliver the guitar, bass and drums. Red-blooded rock ‘n’ roll may have mostly lost its place in the mainstream, but it still resounds with youthful energy no matter your age. [Â©2014 Hyperbolium]