Robespierre's Velvet Basement

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Robespierre's Velvet Basement, the shambolic second album by Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth's Jacobites, is a masterpiece of free-wheeling songwriting, loose arrangements, tossed-off vocals, and straight-to-the-gut emotional expression. The Jacobites were never influenced by what was going on around them; they preferred an earlier, more decadent era in rock, and in their sound one gets the jagged shards of Jagger and Richards, Stewart and Lane, and Ronson and Hunter. Not that the Jacobites sound anything like the Rolling Stones, the Faces, or Ian and Mick. Acoustic guitars are more prevalent than electronics, and the spirit of Marc Bolan's folky years hovers just above the cloud of cigarette smoke that made the studio blue. This is rock & roll of a type that had not been made since the '70s, and is only starting to be made again in the 21st century, but in the guitars and voices of the Jacobites -- with Nikki's brother, the late, great Epic Soundtracks, on drums -- one has to ask why it sounds so timeless, as relevant today as it was when it was made, as wondrously loose and garagey as only the best in rock & roll can be. Tenderness, pathos, vulnerability, humor, bitterness, who-gives-a-damn clarity, and genuine fire are what make Robespierre's Velvet Basement one of the great, unsung classics of the '80s.

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