Standards & Practices

Face To Face

Vagrant Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: George Agnos


You may remember the California punk rock band, Face to Face from their one hit, "Disconnected" back in the mid-90's. The hits may be gone, but they are still making good music. Their latest CD is called Standards & Practices because the entire CD is nothing but covers of some of the bands favorite artists.

Before I even heard a note from this CD, looking at the songs they covered, I realize this band has one cool music collection. The usual suspects are there for a punk rock band with songs by the Ramones and Sugar, as well as unsung punk bands like Jawbreaker, Fugazi, and unsung at least in the United States, the Jam.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, it is the non-punk artists that are covered here that make Standards & Practices such a fascinating CD. The opening song is "What Difference Does It Make?" by the Smiths. This version is quite a revelation not only because the Smiths, who are famous for mellow, somewhat precious Brit-pop, would seem like the unlikeliest band to be covered by punkers, but because Face to Face rock it up without losing sight of Morrissey's clever lyric writing. They wisely do not play it too hard and fast, saving that kind of fury for the real punk songs.

Among the other surprises are their treatments of "Sunny Side Of The Street" by the Irish folk-rock band the Pogues, and "Heaven" by the Psychedelic Furs. Again, both covers are winners because the emphasis is on the songs themselves, and singer Trever Keith captures the nuances, even in these more rock-oriented versions.

All that said, Face to Face do crank it up for much of Standards & Practices. Not only do they wisely match the bluster of Fugazi's "Merchandise", the loopiness of the Pixies "Planet Of Sound", and the campiness of the Ramones "The KKK Took My Baby Away", but they add a great deal of raw energy to the INXS song, "Don't Change".

Of course, there is bound to be a cover that isn't quite so successful. In this case, it is their version of Sugar's "Helpless" which is a a little too straightforward, neither kicking it up a notch sonically or vocally. Keith cannot match Bob Mould's vocal intensity, and sequencing this song after the blistering "Merchandise", makes it seem even a little tired.

At ten songs (with quite a few of them clocking in under three minutes), Standards & Practices seems way too short. The time flies especially because this band sound like they are having a lot of fun. The song choices are great, and for the most part, the performances are inspired. Even if you have all the original songs in your collection, this CD is worth picking up.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vagrant Records, and is used for informational purposes only.