Pop Defect

Live at Big Bear

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A nice, dirty little rock & roll record. This veteran California trio seems most at home in the live format, "mistakes included" (oh, yes), doing garagy versions of seven of their spy/surf/mod/rockabilly/thrash songs, plus nine -- count 'em, nine -- covers. A few, such as Bobbie Gentry's 1967 hit "Ode to Billie Joe," are probably best left to rust, and this is probably the 246th cover of the 1966 Nancy Sinatra standard "These Boots Are Made for Walking," but when they reach for stuff not played gazillions of times on every oldies station in the country, they score consistently. Dig these almost '60s-ish beat versions of more modern tunes such as the Revillos's neo-surf "Secret of the Shadow" (the best Revillos cover since the Replacements used to do "Yeah, Yeah" live), Billy Childish's "Squaresville," and, most amazingly, the Sound's "Can't Escape Myself." This unknown classic, the opening track on that fantastic London group's 1980 debut, Jeopardy, is the highlight of this disc, crackin' with the shaking nerves of Adrian Borland's original delivery, only twice as unrefined and brusque. Holy cow! Incredible taste. Along with M.I.A.'s After the Fact, one of the better, rockin' releases on the longstanding Flipside label.