Monday, November 9, 2015

Promises To Deliver

I can't tell you for sure why I didn't review Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band's Promises To Deliver when it first came out in 2013. To this day, that remains one of the great mysteries of my life. What I can tell you is that Promises To Deliver is one of my ten favorite albums of the current decade. And of course I was beyond thrilled to discover that my favorite record label was reissuing it on CD with a whole slew of bonus tracks! On that note, I proudly present my much-belated public take on a record I absolutely love.

This deluxe reissue of Promises To Deliver comes courtesy of the ever-dependable Rum Bar Records, and it's such a sweet deal. For a measly ten bucks, you get all nine songs from the original LP plus four 7" tracks, a previously unreleased outtake from the album sessions, and a demo version of the smash hit "Julie (Hang Out A Little Longer)". If I just wanted to make an abbreviated sales pitch, I'd say that Promises To Deliver is the album Bruce Springsteen would have made in his heyday if he'd been obsessed with The Replacements and Husker Du. But even that kind of praise sells the record short. And while I can't say that the "punk rock Springsteen" comparisons are completely inaccurate, it needs to be pointed out that Nato Coles is one of the most interesting and unique guys you'll ever meet in the world of music. He's got terrific stories to tell, and he's one of rock n' roll's most diehard true believers. 

A brief recap: Nato Coles was in Milwaukee-based Modern Machines - one of the best and most criminally underrated punk bands of the early-to-mid 2000s. More recently, he was in Radio Faces and Used Kids. Five years ago, he moved to Minneapolis with the intention of starting a new band - one that would play tons of shows and tour constantly. And so Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band were born. You might read the description and imagine some kind of roots/Americana dad rock type deal. But the difference is that Nato and the gang play real rock n' roll. They just love traveling the country and giving every single live audience an incredible show. That's the spirit of the band, and it really comes through in its music. Promises To Deliver is something we don't hear enough these days - a good, solid American rock n' roll record. Drawn from classic rock, Midwestern punk, power pop, and good old country & western influences, the nine tracks on this release marked a huge leap forward in Nato's progression as a songwriter. And two years on, I'm really struck by how well these tunes hold up. From the consummate blue collar rock of "See Some Lights" to the insuppressible energy of "You Can Count On Me Tonight" to the anthemic chorus of its title track, this is a record packed with memorable and simply awesome songs. And "Econoline" is Nato's own "Left Of The Dial" - a heartfelt celebration of the life he's chosen and the trusty motor vehicle that makes it all possible.

While not exactly a concept album, Promises To Deliver offers numerous depictions of people seeking relief from shitty jobs and dreary existences - and finding it through good times and rock n' roll. Listening to these songs, you get a great idea of who Nato Coles is and why he does what he does. He lives to get out there and bring joy to people's lives through music. Having followed his career for a whole lot of years, I always knew he was a super talented guy. But backed by the best bar band this side of I-94, he fully achieved greatness on Promises To Deliver. This Rum Bar reissue is a must-own, and don't miss Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band the next time they roll through your town. Be sure to request your favorite Thin Lizzy song!



Lou Mansdorf said...


Powerpopster said...

Great stuff! Your recent reviews and suggestions have been great all around!