The Raveonettes' Chain Gang Of Love album was one of my favourites of 2003 and I was at least impressed with the two times I saw the Danish band play in support of it and its earlier Whip It On EP. But I was a bit disappointed when I saw the group at SXSW in Austin in March because it had moved away quite a bit from its Jesus and Mary Chain-influenced sound and seemed to lack the energy of the two earlier performances. But I gave the group a second chance and saw it again this summer. I'm glad that I did. It was one of my favourite shows of the year. I was going to buy the band's 2005 CD, Pretty In Black, at the show, but didn't. But I finally got around to buying it on Saturday, and it's one of the best things that I've heard this year.
Richard Gottehrer (a member of the '60s band The Strangeloves, which recorded I Want Candy; the co-writer of The Angels' My Boyfriend's Back and The Merseys' Sorrow, among others; co-founder of Sire Records with my pal Seymour Stein; founder and chairman of The Orchard; and producer of albums from Robert Gordon, Marshall Crenshaw, The Go-Go's, Blondie, Pearl Harbour, Joan Armatrading and others) co-produced again, and the band even covered My Boyfriend's Back. While there were definitely '50s influences -- particularly from Buddy Holly -- in the earlier songs, they're even more pronounced this time around as the arrangements have mellowed and lost some of their earlier menace. That takes some of the edge away, but you're still left with a thoroughly enjoyable record.
Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker guests on the country-ish The Heavens, Red Tan, You Say You Lie and Ode To L.A., which also features vocal contributions from Ronnie Spector. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo trade vocals on the very pretty and delicate Seductress of Bums, while there are parts in Sleepwalking that remind me of Friday On My Mind meets Paint It Black. Here Comes Mary is both majestic and spooky; there's some Ventures-like guitar in Twilight, which is more of a return to earlier Raveonettes sounds; and things close off with some steel guitar on If I Was Young.
Pretty In Black is a totally appropriate title for this album.