The Barracudas

Mean Time

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Mean Time is the Barracudas' masterpiece. Coming several years after their debut, this, the second LP from the band, takes on the direction suggested of their surfer-wannabe debut. When that album came out, the band was already leaving the surf thing behind and getting a little more serious. This is the end result of a journey through the House of Kicks and into serious rock terrain. If you combined early and latter-day Flamin' Groovies, this is what you'd get. Tons of gorgeous 12-string jangle, but with the aggressiveness that was lacking on the last few Groovies albums. At this point the Barracudas were truly an international band, featuring members Chris Wilson (himself a former Groovie) from the U.S.A. on guitar and backing vox and Jim Dickson (Passengers) from Australia on bass, along with perennials Jeremy Gluck and Robin Wills from merry ole England. Not only that, but the album originally came out in France and the band was big in Spain. The album kicks off with two of the band's finest songs, "Grammar of Misery" and "Bad News." Both of these songs show the band in their finest light: sensitivity mixed with resolve. A rare combo for such a rocking outfit. From there the pace is maintained throughout, which is why this is almost loaded with greatest hits. "Shades of Today" is excellent lyrically, and "Dead Skin" is a truly chilling account of what-ifs and coulda-shouldas. "Middle Class Blues" is unique because it tells the story of so many white people from the suburbs. The album closers, "Eleventh Hour" and the desperate wail of "Hear Me Calling," send it out the way it came in: rocking to the jangle. A must.

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