Eddie & the Hot Rods' much-anticipated second album appeared in fall 1977, on the heels of the band's biggest hit single yet, the gloriously anthemic "Do Anything You Wanna Do." Like that attraction, Life on the Line revealed a considerably more mature musical outlook than did its predecessor, the fury-whipped Teenage Depression -- aware that there was no point in pursuing their original whiplash R&B-soaked visions in the face of the ever-accelerating hordes of punk, the Hot Rods swerved into a hard-hitting prototype of what would later become power pop, awash with guitars and riffs, but clinging to some genuinely memorable melodies, too. Of course, the band did not wholly eschew their past -- excuse the young Steve Lillywhite's sparkling production, and both the Pistols-guitar powered "Quit This Town" and the premonitory closer, "Beginning of the End" would readily have fit into Teenage Depression. Flip the coin, however, and the instrumental "We Sing...The Cross" reached far beyond any musical pastures the band had hitherto grazed, toward the same extremes of tension and release that made the early Television such a dynamic experience. The end result was an album that still screams "classic" today -- hard to believe, indeed, that prior to its release, it was difficult to imagine the band ever equalling the triumphant punch of the hit. Nine bonus tracks wrap up the reissue, albeit with considerably less illumination than those which complete the Teenage Depression reissue. The best is the B-side "Distortion May Be Expected," which wanders around similar territory to "We Sing...The Cross," with added jungle, crowd, and, oddly, dub effects, while three live tracks do include a magnificent reading of "Do Anything You Wanna Do." Elsewhere, "Till The Night Is Gone" and "Flipside Rock" fascinate via the presence of MC5 frontman Rob Tyner, in London to check out the punk scene, and winding up with the one band that really didn't wear his old band's name on their sleeve. Musically, the ensuing single was a disappointment, but the possibilities still intrigue.
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
feat: Robin Tyner
feat: Robin Tyner