Stereophonics – Performance And Cocktails (1999): Review

perform

Produced by Steve Bush and Marshall Bird
Label – V2

The album that would cement Stereophonics position amongst Britain’s top Rock acts at the turn of the millennium isn’t as bad as the press would have us believe. See, for all the vilification from a media that seemed to compare every new band of the late 90’s to Oasis, the Welsh three piece were held in mighty esteem by fans that had helped to place their debut at number six in the UK album charts, and this, the follow up entered the chart at number one. Not bad, when considering the fact that they couldn’t buy a good review. Rolling Stone magazine brushed them off in typically scathing tones with “does America need a dumbed-down Radiohead with Oasis bravado? Stereophonics are as useful as a fake-plastic wonderwall”. Leader Kelly Jones, frustrated by comments like this, detached himself from the press and furthermore used his ire to create one of the most passionately penned lyrics for the scathing “Mr Writer” from 2001’s “Just Enough Education To Perform”. The bad press wasn’t warranted frankly, because although Stereophonics can’t hold top quality throughout the full length of a long player, they provide enough unexpected highlights through strong singles and tight arrangements to keep the listener entertained.

stereo

Much of one’s appreciation of Stereophonics material is dependent on Kelly Jones’s vocal. The hoarse, rasping croak, rubbed with sandpaper and road grit can become tiresome when venturing through the full course of this disc, particularly on the slower numbers where his tendency to over lengthen vowels (much like Oasis’s Liam Gallagher) becomes a grating nails on chalkboard experience. Conversely, the upbeat hard rockers work best, where Jones’s vocal is naturally clipped, and that’s highly evident on the opening tracks. “Roll Up And Shine” catalogues the band’s first tour to the U.S. and their wide eyed experience of the L.A freaks at Johnny Depp’s notorious Viper Rooms. It’s probably their best non-single release, a mix of powerful sonic gusto that seamlessly passes through to the rip roaring “The Bartender & The Thief” which would become a signature Stereophonics live track for years to come. The album fizzles out as the quality of the songs deteriorates towards the end, but on the whole “Performance & Cocktails” isn’t the shocker the press would have us believe.

They may be the band most love to hate, but on this performance there’s nothing to suggest that Stereophonics can’t produce a clutch of good singles and at the very least, a wholly listenable experience.

7/10

Track Rating
1 Roll Up and Shine (9)
2 The Bartender and the Thief (9)
3 Hurry Up and Wait (7)
4 Pick a Part That’s New (8)
5 Just Looking (7)
6 Half the Lies You Tell Ain’t True (6)
7 I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio (7)
8 T-Shirt Sun Tan (7)
9 Is Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today? (6)
10 A Minute Longer (6)
11 She Takes Her Clothes Off (6)
12 Plastic California (6)
13 I Stopped to Fill My Car Up (6)

The Bartender & The Thief

Just Looking

Hurry Up And Wait

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