Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal: October 31, 1981 Whisky a Go Go

The Plimsouls

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Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal: October 31, 1981 Whisky a Go Go Review

by Mark Deming

The Plimsouls never quite broke out in the American heartland (not for a lack of trying), but for a while they were one of the hottest bands on the Los Angeles club scene, and on Halloween 1981, they were headlining a show at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip that was recorded for later radio broadcast. Almost three decades after the fact, that show has been released on CD under the title Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal, and one spin makes it clear why these guys could pack the house in L.A. -- the Plimsouls could mix pop hooks and rock & roll energy with the best of ‘em, and their sense of history and ear for what makes a great tune were all but infallible. This isn't the first vintage Plimsouls show to be released on disc, and this set isn't quite as furious as one captured on the classic One Night in America, but by any standards this was a great band having a real good night. Peter Case has a richly deserved reputation as an ace songwriter and top-shelf rock & roll singer, but his bandmates were every bit as strong as he was this evening, and guitarist Eddie Muñoz, bassist Dave Pahoa, and drummer Lou Ramirez sound as precise as a Swiss watch while kicking out the big beat with heart, soul, and plenty of sweat. Anyone who thinks of the Plimsouls as another skinny-tie pop band gets schooled by the revved-up power of "Women" and "Everyday Things," and their R&B roots get a thorough airing with stellar covers of "Jump, Jive and Harmonize," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," and "Who Do You Love?" The Plimsouls were a couple years away from their best album, Everywhere at Once, but a few of its songs are already in the set list, and "A Million Miles Away" already sounds like an instant classic. And if having the Fleshtones (who opened the show) join in for "New Orleans" and "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" doesn't exactly make the show tighter, they certainly boost the party atmosphere to the next level. If you loved the Plimsouls, Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal will instantly remind you why they were one of the best bands of the early '80s, and if you've never given them a listen, this is good enough to make anyone with ears a believer.

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