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Better Late Than Never

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Album Review

Despite popular belief to the contrary, Eddie and the Hot Rods were never a punk rock band — they were solidly in the "fast and loud" division of the rock-revivalist pub rock school, alongside the Count Bishops and the 101'ers, and they were a lot more interested in playing old-school rock & roll with plenty of swagger than bad-mouthing the Queen or fermenting anarchy. In short, what made Eddie and the Hot Rods a good band has never dated or gone out of style, which may be why, of the bands from the U.K.'s class of 1977, they're one of the few who can serve up a new album today that doesn't sound like a pale shadow of their former selves — or at least vocalist Barry Masters still can, since he's the only member of the Hot Rods' classic lineup who appears on 2003's Better Late Than Never. Still, Masters doesn't tarnish the name of his band with Better Late; he's in great voice, sounding like a tougher and more attitudinal Roger Daltrey these days, and if the band doesn't match the manic energy of the Live at the Marquee edition of the Hot Rods, they're tight, they play with heart and soul, and they do a great job of helping Masters serve up a dozen examples of no-nonsense rock & roll, with the nose-thumbing "High Society," the classic car reminiscences of "Deep Blue Interceptor," and the cracking Ian Hunter cover of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" leading the pack. Masters remains a first-rate rock singer who knows how to get a band to make with the boogie, and Better Late Than Never proves there's plenty of life in him yet. [The 2006 American release of the album includes two live bonus tracks, "Wooly Bully" and "Hard Driving Man."]

Better Late Than Never, Eddie
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