The Reducers – Live: New York City 2005
A New London, CT band formed in 1978 came together when guitarists/vocalists Peter Detmold & Hugh Birdsall meshed a punk sound (The Clash, The Jam) with England’s burgeoning pub rock-inspired sounds (Ducks Deluxe, Brinsley Schwartz, Rockpile, Dr. Feelgood) to create an inspired parfait.
They recruited the country-punk background of Tom Trombley (drums) & Steve Kaika (bass/vocalist). By 1980, The Reducers issued their debut studio recorded single. Though they lacked a major label deal the regional legends trudged on with songs about alienation, apathy, loneliness, & betrayal. Musically, their determination & stamina are to be admired. 9 LPs released between 1978-2012 & they played until 2012 when bass player Steve Kaika sadly passed from cancer.
Live: New York City 2005 (Independent Digital Only Release/Drops May 28th). Ian Bryant captured the 16-cuts (2-explicit songs) at Arlene’s Grocery in the Big Apple. It gives those unfamiliar a taste of why this unit managed to survive & endure. Their legacy is somewhat parallel to other DIY bands: Long Island’s The Good Rats, NJ’s The Toasters, NYC’s The Dictators, & Boston’s Willie “Loco” Alexander.
The recording establishes clarity for a production not supervised by a major record company. The opener has hard-to-decipher lyrics but what comes through clearly is the feel, mood, energy & punk/pub sound. The tradition slices through the guitar work short & sweet like Wire’s “Dot-Dash.”
The guitar chords establish a weighty wall-of-sound as the drums lay down solidly & at times display the magical punch of bands like the over-produced Motors (though that band, a pub act originally as Ducks Deluxe).
“Nothing Cool,” is a song that’s arranged & has Sex Pistols appeal, with great bass by Steve. They know what they’re doing. Melodic & wild as Wreckless Eric — held together with finesse.
The majority of songs are short & sweet. Some may say this isn’t Americana. But what it exemplifies is the roots of garage rock that emanated from American garages & basements since rock & roll’s earliest chords. “Let’s Go,” is very Irish/Celtic rock like Black 45. Punk is quite invigorating in a traditional sense. The aggression is key – it tries to be sincere with an overdose of passion.
“Meltdown,” is wonderful. Showcased with skill. Reminds me of the aggressive yet intense band The Wild Stares (“Piece of the Picture”). The Reducers songs are often originals with an occasional Stones cover or Chris Spedding tune. ‘San Antone,” is on the fringe of the Del-Lords & delivered with confidence & power.
I’m surprised I’m saying this: this live 2005 recording could be one of 2021’s best. The majors lost a big chance to sign these inventive musicians.
The 47-minute set: available as a download-only @ Bandcamp & Spotify. http://thereducers.com/
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