Million Mile Club (Live)
Longtime California club fixtures the Paladins may now be the only roots-rock
bar band on 4AD they may not be moody and ethereal, but they rock out, as
this live album attests. Live albums are the way to go for a band like the
Paladins and that's why Million Mile Club sops even their excellent
earlier albums. "15 Days Under The Hood" and "Kiddeo" are brimming with energy.
The Paladins are the kind of revved-up rock `n' roll band which makes it
far too easy to spend the bulk of one's waking life inside a bar, ordering
drinks for the whole house without a care in the world.
James Lien, from
Known predominantly as a live band it's taken four studio records and
eight years for the Paladins to put that highly rated live show down
on record. Of course, in that time that whole roots rock thing has
seen a lot of bands come and go, some like Los Lobos to greater things,
others like the brilliant Blasters sadly no more, and the Fabulous
Thunderbirds into some kind of no man's land depending on who's in the
band at the time. To their credit the Paladins just keep on rocking.
Recorded over a couple of months earlier this year, Million Mile Club
features, as guitarist Dave Gonzalez puts it, "the songs the people
yell out for at the shows" plus a couple of newer tracks, the best of
these aptly titled "15 Days Under the Hood." The Paladins like many
other acts continually commit the unforgivable crime of playing across
the Tasman and never here, so as usual your basic local lover of
quality shitkicker music has to make do with live on record and lump
it. Having said that, play it drunk, play it loud and cab home. (6)
Kevin Byrt, Real Groove Reviews
You know 4AD is expanding their net when they sign greaser hot rod
buffs like the Paladins from San Diego, California. Recorded live
in such after-hours hotspots as The Belly Up Tavern and the Fort
Spokane Brewery, this trio guitar, double bass and drums kicks the
door down, turns your stereo up and drinks your liquor before
splitting with the silverware. Guitarist Dave Gonzalez's gritty,
blusesy vocals can seem somewhat one-dimensional over a whole album,
while the band's sloppy-drunk-with-funk approach is hardly new, but
when it works - as on their cool cover of "Let's Buzz" or their own
"Years Since Yesterday" - it works well. There are many English bands
who would kill to swagger like this.
Sid Griffin, reviewed in Q magazine, Jan '97
Okay, those of us who go looking for blues probably don't go looking for it
among the new releases from 4AD. But if you thought the label was all glitter
and ethereal stuff, think again. This collection, culled from a series of 1996
live dates (hence the title), presents the house-rocking blues of the Paladins
with stripped-down, blistering intensity. You'll hear more than a hint of a
certain Mr. Vaughn's influence on this mix of originals and covers --
especially on "Follow Your Heart" and "Years Since Yesterday" -- but there's
nothing wrong with that. It certainly adds punch to the fickle automotive
romance of "15 Days Under the Hood". Highlights are the longer songs --
the slow, low and dirty "Let's Buzz", the brooding, Los Lobos-y epic "Big
Mary's" and the full-steam-ahead "One Step", which closes the disc with
eleven and a half of the rawest, most jam-intensive minutes I've spent in quite
a while. Okay, it might not have the pedigree of Chicago blues, but it cooks.
I also like this album for the simple reason that I like to imagine a little
goth girl -- one who snaps up everything on 4AD -- buying this album, taking
it home and utterly freaking. But I'm cruel that way.
George Zahora, Splendid E-Zine
As any Dungeons and Dragons geek can tell you, a paladin is the archetypical knight in shining armor, riding the gleaming white horse and galloping toward the odious dragon to save the damsel in distress. For our purposes, let's extend the metaphor and say that the damsel in distress is a flagging San Diego music scene. The evil dragon is the climate that makes that so Ñ i.e. greedy record companies, short-sighted radio stations, and a herd-like consumer thirst for the next trend. In this case, the heroic paladin is, well, The Paladins. It's refreshing to hear a band who shucks the rigmarole and gimmickry for straight-ahead rock, rockabilly and blues. Million Mile Club is a live project recorded locally at the Belly Up Tavern as well as in Portland, Vancouver, and Spokane. Individually, all three pieces come across as tight and strong. Dave Gonzalez submits an active, if not hyper-active, guitar performance. Thomas Yearsly on the stand-up bass and Jeff Donovan on drums do a wonderful job giving Gonzalez the alley-oop pass, which he slam-dunks with his tremendous soloing. Gonzalez' vocals, though not particularly far-ranging, express great emotion and an intonation definitely suited for this blues/rock country hybrid. It's obvious that this band cares about their art, and the local scene (a point proved by a dedication in the liner notes to the late Mac Faulk, Country Dick Montana and Johnny "Guitar" Watson). I can't say that The Paladins have saved the local scene singlehandedly, but with their worthy talents and honest songwriting, the group has taken an important step in the right direction.
Edwin Decker, SLAMM - San Diego