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One Way Ticket

The Nerves

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Album Review

The Nerves were a great band with lousy timing — they were a top-notch power pop trio who emerged on the L.A. rock scene in 1977, just as punk was becoming the next hipster sensation and about 18 months before the hookier end of new wave would have given them a shot at the big time. Peter Case went on to a memorable career fronting the Plimsouls and as a solo act, Paul Collins made a pair of great records as the leader of the Beat, and Jack Lee's tune "Hanging on the Telephone" became a hit for Blondie, making it abundantly clear that the Nerves' potential was very real and all three members could write and sing great songs, but during their all-too-brief existence the band self-released just one 7" EP and supported it with a D.I.Y. tour before falling apart. One Way Ticket is by no means the album the Nerves never got to make, but at least it gathers the scraps the band left behind in one convenient package. The four songs from the legendary Nerves EP are all here, along with two other studio tracks intended for a follow-up single that was never released, another stray studio recording, a pair of home-recorded demos, and seven rough but exciting live tunes from a Nerves gig in Illinois. A Case and Collins living room tape, a pair of relevant post-Nerves tunes by the Jack Lee Band, and an embryonic version of the Plimsouls round out the package. Several of Collins' songs would later appear on the first Beat album, and Case's tunes show the smarts and energy he'd bring to the Plimsouls, but it's Lee's work that's the real standout on this disc, and it makes one wonder how his career fizzled out after just one solo album. The piecemeal nature of One Way Ticket makes this a somewhat uneven listening experience, but the high points are pure, hooky bliss; the first seven songs sound like the first side to a terrific album, and the live recordings confirm that this band knew how to make their music work on-stage. One Way Ticket is a fine tribute to a band that came and went too quickly, and if you love '70s power pop, this is archival stuff that practically demands a place in your library.

Biography

Formed: 1975 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s

They could've been contenders had they stayed together long enough, but the Nerves, despite their brief existence, were one of the most exciting bands in power pop. Formed by Jack Lee, Peter Case, and Paul Collins in 1975, their career was over by 1978, but they produced a great EP that featured the power pop classic "Hanging on the Telephone," which was later recorded (and wonderfully so) by Blondie. Ultimately, having three talented songwriters in one band hurried the demise of the Nerves, and...
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One Way Ticket, The Nerves
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