Los Angeles at the turn of the '80s musta been some place to be for all serious music heads. The Gun Club, X, The Misfits, The Motels and The Blasters were all making seminal records, Steve Wynn's Dream Syndicate were just about to break through and this then-impressionable 14-year old was frantically scanning Sylvie Simmons' weekly LA column in 'Sounds' trying to catch up.
There's a serious omission from that short-list of demi-Gods, of course. Peter Case's incendiary quartet THE PLIMSOULS were already confirmed LA heroes and this rapturously-received, adrenaline-soaked live recording from a charged Halloween '81 show at Hollywood's legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go more than justifies the MC introducing them as “LA'S finest.”
The Plimsouls' legacy has ensured them a place in the upper echelons of influential US Power Pop acts, but – in the live arena at least – they were loud, hard and bullish, drawing from the Garage/ Freakbeat tradition of edgy combos like The Chocolate Watch Band and The Creation every bit as much as the more harmonically-inclined likes of Big Star. Not for nothing do the covers here include The Who's 'Run Run Run' and The Kinks' 'Come On Now', as The Plims' amphetamine versions set the tone for the blissful 18 track, 53 minute assault we're presented with here.
OK, so it's a live recording, so expect a few imperfections, like the slightly boomy, reverb-heavy sound or the fact that Eddie Munoz's guitar is mixed so loud it'll scythe your head off if you're listening on headphones, but the slightly warts'n'all production does little to disguise the fact that The Plimsouls were on fire that night.
The opening salvo of 'Shaky City', 'Hush Hush' and the clipped and venomous 'Lost Time' immediately propel you into the thick of it, with thunderous drumming, off-the-wrist power-chording and lippy vocals all vying for your attention. Case is the suitably gritty and debonair frontman, while Munoz is a real, old-fashioned lead guitarist, full of flash and daring. It's only three songs in, but before 'Lost Time' has wound down, he's already battered his poor Stratocaster into feedback-strewn submission.
Stick around and the melodic likes of 'Now' and 'A Million Miles Away' proceed to melt your heart, while tracks like the full-on Garage blast of 'Sorry' and the souped up Eddie-Cochran-meets-The-Ramones ramalama of 'Everyday Things' then conspire to scare the living Bejaysus out of you. There's not even the sniff of a ballad or any unnecessary wimping out, simply wired, well-appointed Rock'n'Roll from wall to wall, culminating in a 60s-Hit-stuffed finale which only dies down after a manic, elongated medley of The Who's 'Run Run Run' and Bo Diddley's inevitable 'Who Do You Love?' finally runs out of steam.
'Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal' may never have the same cachet as legendary live albums like The Who's 'Live At Leeds', but it vividly captures the seething excitement of a great Plimsouls gig for posterity and deserves to be bracketed with The Dream Syndicate's great 'Live At Raji's. That means it's an essential document of the fertile 80s L.A scene and you should check it out at your earliest convenience.