Richard Hell & the Voidoids / Richard Hell

Destiny Street

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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

No one ever accused Richard Hell of being the hardest working man in rock & roll, and not only did it take him five years to get around to making a follow-up to his first album, the remarkable Blank Generation, but he didn't even bother to come up with a full LP's worth of new material for 1982's Destiny Street; the opening song, "The Kid With the Replaceable Head," first appeared as a B-side to a single in 1979, and three of the album's ten tunes are covers, which hardly speaks well of his productivity. But if it's hard to imagine why it took five years to come up with Destiny Street, there's little arguing that Hell's second album is nearly as strong as his first. While the covers might seem like padding, the interpretations of the Kinks' "You Gotta Move" and Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything" are wildly passionate and overflowing with ideas and energy, and Hell's dour, jagged take on Dylan's "Going, Going, Gone" nearly surpasses the original. Robert Quine's guitar work on Blank Generation staked his claim as one of the most interesting and intelligent guitarists to emerge from the New York underground scene, and if anything, he was in even stronger form on Destiny Street, while new members Naux (on guitar) and Fred Maher (on drums) give him all the support he needs. And though Blank Generation made it clear Hell was among the brainiest members of punk's first graduating class, the handful of new originals here show he'd actually grown since his debut; on "Downtown at Dawn" and "Ignore That Door," Hell subtly but implicitly rejects the dead end of night-life decadence, "Time" is a meditation on mortality that's unexpectedly compassionate, and the title cut proved Hell had not only begun to recognize his own faults, but had even learned to laugh at them. Destiny Street sounds looser and more spontaneous than Hell's debut, but it's just as smart and every bit as powerful, and it's a more than worthy follow-up.

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