Music

Various Artists: Marty Thau Presents 2 x 5

Charlotte Robinson

Music impresario Marty Thau, known for his associations with Blondie and the New York Dolls, selected five New York bands to record two songs each for release on his Red Star label.


Various Artists

Marty Thau Presents 2 x 5

Label: Sanctuary
US Release Date: 2005-05-10
UK Release Date: 2005-05-23
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

The concept behind this 1980 compilation is simple: music impresario Marty Thau, known for his associations with Blondie and the New York Dolls, selected five New York bands to record two songs each (hence the "2 x 5" of the title) for release on his Red Star label. Blondie keyboardist Jimmy Destri produced the tracks, which come from the Fleshtones, Revelons, Bloodless Pharaohs, Comateens, and Student Teachers. In his liner notes for this CD reissue, Thau writes that the bands "created 2 x 5's music with an infectious spirit and energy in the tradition of the original Nuggets bands like the Standells, Love, Sonics, 13th Floor Elevators, and Chocolate Watch Band." Despite this proclamation, with the exception of the Fleshtones' tracks, the music on 2 x 5 bears little resemblance to '60s garage rock. For the most part, this is standard new wave fare by relatively obscure bands.

In the case of the Comateens, it would be perfectly fine if they remained obscure. Their "Overseas" and "Late Night City" are an unappetizing brew of lame music and dumb lyrics, among them, "Late night city / Ain't nothin' so pretty". Nonetheless, they went on to record three albums in the early '80s.

The biggest claim to fame for Bloodless Pharaohs was having Brian Setzer in their ranks, but fans of Stray Cats and Setzer's solo work beware: this band sounds nothing like that. Setzer's guitar prowess is shamefully underutilized as he competes against swirling synthesizers and the gloomy vocals of Ken Kinnally, who sounds similar to Nick Cave in his Boys Next Door years. In fact, the whole thing sounds a bit like the BND, who were so cheesy that they had to change their name to the Birthday Party once they got some sense and decided to start making decent music.

Unsurprisingly, the ever-reliable Fleshtones turn in a decent garage stomper in the form of "F-F-Fascination", but the version of the subdued "Shadow-line" included here is not nearly as strong as the one that would appear on their debut album a year later. The best known band on the compilation, the Fleshtones are still rocking today, and have a new album, Beachhead, coming out August 9 on Yep Roc.

An anthology of the Revelons' recorded work appeared last year on the Sepia Tone label. Their "Red Hot Woman" is a raucous blend of rockabilly snarl and punk fuzz, while "Cindy" is a midtempo rocker with more of a standard new wave sound, although it has a nice pop hook.

The Student Teachers are the pleasant surprise on 2 x 5. Although they only lasted 1978-1980 and their recorded output was meager (a single and an EP), they seem to have perfected their synth-pop sound. "Looks" is a lovelorn teenage ballad, while "What I Can't Feel" shows a different, poppier side of the band.

While the music on 2 x 5 is a mixed bag, the quality of the reissue is patently dreadful. Apart from Thau's brief essay, there are no explanatory notes (which would be helpful, given the relative obscurity of the bands), and the sound is alternately muddy and tinny. Of course, 2 x 5 will be of some interest to fans of NYC punk and new wave, but those who don't count themselves in that group might well wonder why this compilation is so sought-after.

5
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone can undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Books

'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.