Backyard Babies

Tinnitus

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Given America's rapturous response to Velvet Revolver, one can only surmise that hundreds upon thousands of mid-2000s hard rock fans were feeling starved for the late-'80s raucous brand of sleaze. Which makes it all the more baffling to figure out how, if this is the case, other champions of that style of music such as England's Wildhearts and Sweden's Backyard Babies can be continually ignored by these same fans. Velvet Revolver's simple star power is of course the easy answer for this conundrum (Americans' pathetic inability to accept foreign-born great music unless its baby-talked and spoon-fed them by MTV is the difficult one) and all one can do is hope that their major-label-blessed ascension paves the way to success for a few of these other equally deserving -- heck, who are we kidding...far more deserving -- foreign hard rockers. Released in 2005, Tinnitus is one opportunity to rectify this injustice, collecting 12 choice highlights from three of the Backyard Babies' uniformly strong studio albums into a U.S.-only greatest-hits set of unbelievably high quality. Expertly and diversely showcasing the Stockholm natives' never less than inspiring Cheap Trick-gone-Metallica sound (where heaviness, speed, melody, and hooks coexist in explosive perfection), bona fide classics such as "Star War," "Minus Celsius," and the reverential "The Clash" could teach American bands a thing or two about their roots. Opening the disc with one of the band's most commercial and atypically synth-enhanced singles, "Brand New Hate," is probably ideal for the circumstances -- but deeper immersion quickly unveils darker pleasures contained in songs like the scat-hateful "U.F.O. Romeo," the forlorn "Highlights" and "Colours," and the absolutely frenzied, Motörhead-would-kill-to-still-write-songs-like-this masterpiece "Made Me Madman." To sum it all up, if America's tattered and fast-fading rock & roll soul has any chance of salvation, this may well be one of its last chances -- grab it! [The digipack version of Tinnitus is made all the more irresistible by adding a bonus disc sampler of tracks by other label signings, including Nebula, Crash Kelly, the mighty Hellacopters, and even Hanoi Rocks.]

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