Is it finally time for the BACKYARD BABIES to conquer their last frontier? They've toured with AC/DC, SOCIAL DISTORTION and VELVET REVOLVER, and they pre-date THE HELLACOPTERS. They've collaborated in various side projects with everyone from members of ENTOMBED to MICHAEL friggin' MONROE. Yet here in the States, they make DANKO JONES look popular and well-publicized!
This scorching live set, recorded in Paris in 2004, makes a nice introduction to these Swedes and their sleazy, snotty rock and roll. Sort of a missing link between stoner rock, workingman's street punk and sleaze metal, BACKYARD BABIES would be at home in front of all three crowds, because after all, it's all just rock and roll. Catchy? Not in the pop-single sense — a lot of this smears together, especially live, into a big friendly punk rock mess. There's a lot of batshit crazy French people who don't care much, though, yelling along and demanding several encores.
As live recordings go, this one's got a great mix, nice and clear, and everyone redeems themselves fairly well on their instruments. The vocals are right up front, plenty of gritty harmonies and snarling attitude, ripe for singalongs at home. These guys have attitude to spare, oozing out of the speakers, but it never comes off as smug or contrived — they've been at it since 1991, so I'm willing to put money on them as the real deal. There's a refreshing lack of pretension here, too — this isn't rock and roll being played by twerps who were all emo or death metal two years ago. It's got rough-hewn gutter melodies, killer riffs, and enough energy to level a building — what more could you want?
There's nothing wrong with some well-done Swedish rock and roll, especially when it's done this well. Where do you go after this fine slab of live grit and grease? I don't know either, but I'm gonna make a point to find out.