The Nerves: One Way Ticket (record review)

The Nerves
One Way Ticket
Alive Natural Sound (0090)
recorded:1976 – 1979
Rating: ***** (Good Shit)
This 2008 comp provides a comprehensive overview of this classic power-pop outfit, opening with two unreleased songs recorded for Bomp Records in 1977, “One Way Ticket” (Peter Case) and “Paper Dolls” (Jack Lee), the first number flipping the theme from “The Letter” by the Boxtops, this one focusing on leaving instead out trying to get to a woman, the similarity pointing out an influence on this outfit.  It’s a great song, killer start to this set, and Jack Lee’s contribution is equally cool.  Following that pair, the set offers the four songs from their only release, a 1976 E.P. from their own Nerves Records.  All of these four songs are good, especially the first two, Jack Lee’s original version of “Hanging On the Telephone” (later a hit for Blondie) and Peter Case’s “When You Find Out.”  The other two are good too, Paul Collins’s “Working Too Hard” looking back to the Beatles as well as foreshadowing his work with The Beat.  The set also includes two killer demos from 1976, Jack Lee’s “Stand Back and Take a Good Look” showing a Velvet Underground influence (or perhaps it was just influenced by the garage groups that influenced VU).  While “Many Roads To Follow” (Case-Collins) clearly fits in with the sound of this band, the acoustic sound makes it unique.  It’s clearly influenced by the Beatles, but it’s completely American, coming out of the more reflective side of 60s garage.  While reviewers often point out the DC5/Beatles influence on this band, this acoustic number reveals something that shows in all their songs, an influence that came from the States more than England.  This group might have gotten it from England, but England got it from Middle America in the first place, and this band brings it back home.  When I listen to the Nerves, I hear this band grabbing the baton from Alex Chilton.  

The set also features post-Nerves material from the late 70s and live cuts from the Nerves 1977 tour.  Some of these come across as almost filler, but the strong cuts are plentiful, more than enough to make this album a worthwhile grab.
This band splintered into the Plimsouls and the Beat, as well as other groups, and the sound heard here influenced countless artists.  The Nerves not only set an example that many followed, they also set a bar that most bands could only attempt to reach.
— Winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

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