Fizzy, furious and cheerfully unreconstructed rock’n’roll.
Andrew Mueller 2010
Nobody in The Len Price 3 is called Len Price, but the name seems nevertheless appropriate: workmanlike, no-nonsense, somewhat redolent of meat and potatoes, the sort of thing getaway drivers were called in black-and-white Ealing comedies.
Pictures, the Kent trio’s third album, is distinguished and defined by a fundamentalist disdain for frippery – or, indeed, for any whiff of a suggestion that anything worth noticing has happened in popular music since the release of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. It is altogether unsurprising that The Len Price 3 have got themselves signed by Wicked Cool, the label dedicated by its founder, Steve Van Zandt, to the proposition that rock’n’roll had pretty much peaked by 1970.
Which is not to condemn Pictures as a collection of hidebound period pastiches – rather to acknowledge that while it is most certainly a collection of period pastiches, it’s also spirited, uncynical and commendably punctilious in not outstaying its welcome – 13 tracks whip past in a squeak over 31 minutes. Pictures does, however, err in being rather too careful to sound like it could have been made in the period that inspires it. While there is something to be said for analogue recording, the sound of this album, as tinny and thin as the walls of the garage in which it might have been made, is a compelling advertisement for the benefits of digital, especially to artists on a straitened budget.
The songs that emerge through the murk are at least proficient and occasionally impressive. A few too many are little more than games of spot-the-Who-riff – I Don’t Believe You is especially too close for comfort, specifically to I Can’t Explain – but some of these tunes (the breezy R&B Nothing Like You, the muscular Attractions-like rumble of Man Who Used to Be) have lives of their own. They need them. The Len Price 3’s lyrics aspire to the waspish kitchen sink drama of Ray Davies, or the witty English vernacular of Squeeze’s Chris Difford, but they often trim closer to the toe-curlingly corny sloganeering of Sham 69.
That said, The Len Price 3 sound well aware that people aren’t tuning in for their Swiftian commentary, but for the fizzy fury of their cheerfully unreconstructed rock’n’roll. Pictures may well be what the doctor ordered, for those whose preferred consultant’s last name is Feelgood.