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Happy Doing What We're Doing

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Recensione album

In America, there are a lot more music fans who have no more than a vague idea of what pub rock was than those who have an active working knowledge of the stuff. Philosophically, pub rock was a U.K.-based precursor to punk, but while punk was the sound of kids smashing up rock's formal structures and stripping them to the frame, the pub bands were about taking rock back to its breezy roots, celebrating the agrarian vibe of the Band as much as the roots rock energy of Chuck Berry, and the music was meant to sound good played in a bar on a Friday night, accompanied by a few pints of beer. Pub rock was also a strictly British phenomenon, and the pub stars best known in America are those who later hitched their wagon to the new wave a few years later, such as Nick Lowe and Ian Dury. Which is a large part of what makes Elizabeth McQueen's second album, Happy Doing What We're Doing, such a surprise — born in Little Rock, AR, and currently calling Austin, TX, her home, the 20-something McQueen got turned on to some of the classic British pub rock bands by some friends, and on this disc she covers a dozen tunes, most by noted pub acts, including Ducks Deluxe, Dr. Feelgood, Eggs Over Easy, and Brinsley Schwarz, as well as a few by such scene-followers as Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Squeeze. McQueen's affection for this music is obvious and infectious from the first cut to the last, and McQueen and her band have a natural feeling for the roots-oriented rock & roll that was what pub was all about. Her sole original tune on this set, "Dirty Little Secret," fits in just right and anyone who digs classic pub rock sounds will like this. However, most of the performances seem just a shade off in feeling and attack compared to the originals, and McQueen's lyrical gender shifts sometimes throw the songs into an odd relief. Still, Happy Doing What We're Doing will encourage many fans to dig up the original of the many great tunes on board, and that qualifies this disc as a major public service.

Happy Doing What We're Doing, Elizabeth McQueen and the Firebrands
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