There’s a clear tendency to retrospectively reduce eras of pop music to singular sounds, despite the fact that such monolithic sonic styles are rarely the case. By now, the nineteen-eighties are largely thought of as a time of synth pop and maybe wailing saxophone solos, as the fallout from the new wave explosion earlier in the decade settled over just about everything. Those who had their radios tuned to the stations staffed by college kids might associated the jangly tones of R.E.M. a little more readily, but when a current band is said to have an “eighties sound,” its almost certainly the post-new-wave pop sounds that are being referenced.
I fall prey to that reductive view as well, but songs occasional shuffle up that remind me that there are other sounds that can immediately transport me back a few decades. (Good lord, I feel a little woozy after realizing “few decades” was the right way to phrase that.) One such song is “Gettysburg,” the lead track from Honor Among Thieves, the debut album from the Brandos.
Released in 1987, the album got a hearty push from A&M Records. The label was clearly convinced the New York band has a shot at duplicating the somewhat unlikely success of bands like Georgia Satellites and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who scored solid hits in the middle of the decade with tracks that were straight-ahead rock songs but with a clear and present studio sheen to them. Given my predilections at the time, “Gettysburg” was the sort of song likely to grab my ear and make me fervently insist that it proved that traditional rock ‘n’ roll was still vital and exciting. Listening to it now, it’s definitely not groundbreaking, but it’s solidity has an appeal. It’s worth getting nostalgic over.
Listen or download –> The Brandos, “Gettysburg”
(Disclaimer: From my own limited experience, I assumed the Brandos were one of those one-and-done bands that speckled college radio playlists during my time in the left-of-the-dial wonderland. Instead, they’ve put out a whole bunch of records over the years, maybe because they’re big in Germany? It still looks to me like their A&M Records efforts if out of print as a physical object that can procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner than compensates both the proprietor of said store and the artist. Thus, the song is being shared here with the belief that doing so impedes no likely commerce. Still, I know the rules. I will promptly and gladly remove the file from my little corner of the digital if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)