Fifteen years separated Eddie & The Hot Rods' fourth album from their fifth - 15 years, during which the membership traveled as far afield as the Inmates and the Damned, and the original band name was invoked but briefly, for a spotty reunion around 1985.
Another decade, another try. With Barrie Masters and Steve Nicol, custodians of the mid-80s Rods, finally rejoined by Paul Gray and Dave Higgs - the band's original four piece line-up, no less! - Gasoline Days emerged trailing a lot more than nostalgia behind it. That primal line-up, after all, was responsible for one of the key kickstarts in the entire punk lexicon, the Teenage Depression album which put a voice to the roar of disaffected youth a full year before the Pistols found that sneering did the job just as well.
But that was then, this is now, and Gasoline Days emerged as inflammable as a cup of lukewarm tea, comfortable rock for comfortable rockers, with even Higgs' trademark stropped-razor guitar clogged up by the soap. Masters works himself up to a bellow ocasionally, but he doesn't sound angry, just a little peeved. And Gray, who once contributed mightily to some of the best records the Damned ever made, might as well have served time in Asia for all he brings out of the experience.
The songs aren't terrible - they're not even bad. They're just anonymous. And if that's what Eddie & The Hot Rods reformed to accomplish, then Gasoline Days is an unmitigated triumph, and it completes a perfect transition as well. From teenage depression to mid-life crisis. Clever stuff!