The Swaggerts

The Whole Story

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The Swaggerts is the type of no-frill bar rock band that could open for anyone from George Thorogood to Iggy Pop without the missing a beat, and, more importantly, entertaining both audiences. Their high-spirited debut disc plays like a jukebox of American rock. "Rockbottom" kicks off The Whole Story on a gritty rockabilly note, but then the record careens confidently through a number of styles. The '50s throwback "Jezebel" is followed by the jolly "American Beer," which sounds like a Rockpile outtake. The band twangs convincingly on the country-rocker "Bonnie" and rips it up surf-style on the instrumental "Big Beach Jihad." The disc's strongest stretch comes with a trio of tunes: "All Wound Up," "Take a Chance With Me," and "All Day Sucker for You." The first and last numbers -- ferocious blasts of proto-punk fury -- sandwich a terrific Del Lords-like garage pop song. The band's core members -- Paul Mayer (aka Nervus Chet Purvis) and Bill Collins -- are responsible for the group's versatility. Bassist Mayer co-founded the New England roots rock outfit Big Bad Johns, while Collins spent many years in the Bay Area punk scene before joining the Johns in the band's last days. Together, these two barroom vets give the band's sound a hard-boiled realism, as well as a street-smart sense of hooks. While the Swaggerts aren't doing anything radically new here, they do make music that packs such a solid punch that it's hard to ignore. They are the type of opening act that'll steal the show if the headliner isn't careful.

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