Friday, May 13, 2022

The Clams - The Complete Clams

Out now on Rum Bar Records, The Complete Clams brings the recorded output of one of the most overlooked Twin Cities bands of the 1980s back into print -- where it deserves to be. The Clams were Cindy Lawson (guitar, lead vocals), Patty Jansen (bass), Karen Cusack (drums), and Roxie Terry (lead guitar). Between 1986 and 1988, they released two singles and one 12" EP. The Complete Clams compiles the songs from all three releases along with some additional rarities to form one really great 15-track album. While anyone with fond memories of seeing The Clams live in the later '80s will be thrilled with this collection, this is by no means a "for fans only" type release. Listening to this album, I can't help noticing how well it fits in with Rum Bar's existing catalog full of glam rock, garage rock, power pop, and straight-forward rock and roll. Cindy Lawson was (and still is!) an absolute powerhouse on lead vocals. She and Roxie Terry formed a bad-ass tandem a la Jagger/Richards and Johansen/Thunders. It's no surprise, then, to hear the Stonesy vibes of "Run Baby Run" and a most formidable cover of the New York Dolls' "Human Being." What I enjoy about this collection is that it captures a very versatile rock and roll band. Debut single "What's Wrong With This Picture?" is jangly guitar pop at its finest. Second single "Train Song" is raw, high-energy rock and roll straight out of the bar. By the time The Clams released their EP Exile On Lake Street, they were trying everything from cool Pretenders-ish rock ("He's Like Heroin") to anthemic, thundering rock and roll ("Let Me Drive") to infectious power pop ("Give Me A Reason") to edgy new wave ("Eat My Words"). Unearthed from an obscure Pendulum Records compilation album, "The Desperate Kind" is The Clams' punkiest track-- and one of its very best! The album also features several live covers which give you a sense of some of the band's influences and a feel for what it would have been like to experience The Clams in person. Buy this album if you want to hear the coolest-ever version of "We're an American Band"! 

Whether you're a Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene historian or simply want to discover a really great garage rock and roll band that has gone largely unrecognized for decades, The Complete Clams is a highly recommended purchase. What a voice Cindy Lawson has! Be on the lookout for a reissue of her latest solo EP New Tricks -- releasing next Friday on Rum Bar Records!

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