The ‘Narc’s 50 Favorite Records Of The Aughts

December 9, 2009 at 5:59 am (Uncategorized)

47. Dave Kusworth & the Tenderhooks, Like “Wonderland Avenue” In A Cold Climate

Dave Kusworth is a superstar. What, you’ve never heard of him? Join the club–few people have (despite Kusworth’s affiliations-however sometimes peripheral–with The Dogs D’Amour and Hanoi Rocks). Makes no difference here. When Kusworth steps onstage in leather pants, scarves, and leopard-print jacket, with mascara dutifully-applied…well, he’s just a superstar, a rock god, a guitar hero–simply by his own possibly-drunken swagger and sneering confidence. Dave Kusworth has been playing Captain Jack Sparrow for nearly three decades now.

I could give you the laundry list of Kusworth’s career–from his days with Nikki Sudden in the legendary Jacobites lineup to a career fronting bands with names like The Bounty Hunters or The Tenderhooks. I could do all that, and you’re likely to dismiss it all as some obscurist fanboy championing an undeserving minor league never-was…so let’s not do that. No, there’s an easier way to “get” Dave Kusworth, and what he’s about. It ain’t the vocals–Dave’s voice kind of wanders around a melody, occasionally hitting it…sometimes not. His songs tend to be rocking mid-tempo laments about love lost, so even if there’s the occasional brilliant nugget of wisdom in the lyrics, you’re likely to miss it anyway, and hey, that’s not the charm of Kusworth.

No, to “get” Kusworth, what you need to do is just hear the music. Especially, you need to hear the guitar. Britain has this knack for producing guitar heroes who become known not so much for virtuosity as they are for the sounds they get. I’m thinking here of the tradition of players like Mick Ronson, Jimmy Page, Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr, or Will Sergeant–guys who simply cannot strum a guitar without it sounding kick ass. Dave Kusworth sits at the top of that heap, right next to a guy like Spider From Mars Ronson who was clearly a huge influence. Whether it’s a buzzing electric guitar, a rustic acoustic, or a weeping slide guitar, Kusworth is unable to play without getting a guitar sound that sounds better than anyone else on the planet.

The other great thing is that Dave Kusworth writes riffs and melodies equal to the awesomeness of his guitar chops. During the past decade, he’s put out a half-dozen albums of almost equal, excellent quality. I picked “Wonderland Avenue” almost by tossing a coin; as it is, tracks like “Real Girl”, “Come With Me”, and the incandescent “It Comes And It Goes” are just magic. The wailing slide on “How Come I Always Dream About You?” sounds like the kind of misty-eyed ballad that the metal kids in the 1980’s kept trying to write but always failed at–they forgot to kick ass, and here Kusworth demonstrates how to do both of those things. This album–and damned near everything else Dave Kusworth has released over the years–represents the rebellious greatness of rock and roll distilled into its purest form.

Songs to listen to:
“It Comes And It Goes”
“Real Girl”
“How Come I Always Dream About You?”

47. Dave Kusworth & The Tenderhooks, Like “Wonderland Avenue” In A Cold Climate (2007)

48. Grant Lee Phillips, Mobilize (2001)
49. The Cobbs, Sing The Deathcapades (2006)
50. The Bangles, Doll Revolution (2003)
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