The Chords

This Is What They Want

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What's going on here? How is it that a band that released only one album in its lifetime can have a two-CD anthology? No, not the Sex Pistols; this collection is from mod legends the Chords, who are finally being acknowledged with this fine double-disc set featuring all of their previously released studio recordings, plenty of unreleased alternate takes, and a few new songs. For fans of the Jam and Jolt, the Chords relied on pounding out huge and heavy chords on their Rickenbacker guitars while singing snappy melodies with a Keith Moon-like thunderous drumbeat behind them. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Fortunately, guitarist Chris Pope wrote some clever songs, sung by vocalist/guitarist Billy Hassett, making the most of their Who and Jam influences. In their short but explosive existence, they released one album and a handful of singles before sacking Hassett and hiring former Vibrators vocalist Kip Herring (who had replaced head Vibrator Knox for a short period) for a final single before breaking up. The band's recordings were certainly exciting and energetic, but this dip into the vaults does no one any favors. Disc one is virtually flawless, containing the complete So Far Away album, all the non-album A-sides, and a new reworking of "British Way of Life." Disc two is where things start to unravel. The early versions of album tracks are energetic, yet are vastly inferior to the released versions. Even though the band is held in high esteem, there's no reason to release a collection of unreleased tracks filled with flat vocals and sloppy playing. The only tracks worth listening to more than once on this second disc are the seven B-sides, all of which are top-notch. The other 13 tracks are certainly not worth the price of admission. Buy the Captain Oi!/Captain Mod CD reissue of the So Far Away album with 11 bonus tracks instead, and leave this one to the purists.

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