I can't remember who it was, but it may have been Ricky Gervais, who whilst DJ'ing a show on BBC Radio announced that he was going to do an album review of lets say 'Thomas Leer's Scale of Ten'
“But that's not current” says a sidekick
“Doesn't matter” responds Ricky
“It's ancient” adds the sidekick
“Still relevant though” asserts Ricky
I always liked that reasoning and remembered it, and that's the thinking behind this new occasional series in the blog - during certain moments when the mood appears - we're gonna throw in the odd record which for whatever reason we feel, hasn't got the exposure it should have, so we're gonna highlight it. So what's first? Well, when we began Powerpop Review we prepared a number of reviews that for one reason or another - most likely one of those long delays which if you've stayed with us for any time will just feel like business as usual - we didn't publish as intended.
This then is one of those. We've not added or subtracted hardly anything from it, so please act like it's 2007 in this instance. If you're good we'll add a postcript at the end just to bring things up to date. Here goes then with a well deserved and second bite of the cherry for David Doll...
David Doll - Headsets For Jets [Not Lame] (2007)
David Doll is a man out of step with current trends - and 50 plus years after the birth of rock 'n' roll it's difficult in the post-millennium era to say what is - but this album is more 'now' than most trendier fare you're likely to meet in 2007.
With the looks of a younger, slightly less nerdy, not so aggressive Elvis Costello — but with the similar intelligent knack for writing hook-filled noirs of modern life - David Doll's cracking melodies and workaday lyrical vision paint him as an everyman for the naughties and beyond.
What might make you doubt this is Doll's clear affection for the past: echoes of the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Monkees, Squeeze, Bowie and Jason Falkner are heard in abundance on "Headsets For Jets". Yet this is not mere pastiche or retrograde fumbling — this is songwriting of the classic kind — and try as one might, you can't deviate from the blueprint laid down by the great and good of the 60's and 70's. That is just craftsmanship and Doll makes it fresh, exciting and very much his own.
Nowhere is Doll's connection with the regular Joes heard better than on "Sleep" which recounts the kind of insomnia which hits many of us sometime in our lives. "I Don't Mind" demonstrates the numbness the end of an affair can result in a strange kind of empty indifference, which is deeply unpleasant but oh so common.
"Comeback Special" recalls The Monkees "Saturday's Child" crossed with the Bay City Rollers without actually sounding like the original reference. Short closer "Independence Day" reminds this writer of those epilogue tracks like "Her Majesty" or "You're Welcome", again without a hint of facsimile. David is just very professional and although new to the game, knows how to pace and construct a perfectly formed album.
Prior to this release, David made just one EP, so I think his time has come. In a kinder, better and fairer world David Doll would be massive and your contemptuous, dime a dozen karaoke fodder would be nowhere. Even given the real harsh world we all inhabit, perhaps there is space for some of David's talent — I do hope so.
On release it seems the album suffered from somewhat of an identity crisis in that an attempt to relaunch the act as a band called Automat resulted in in a number of different sleeves surfacing to dress the brilliant contents. I don't know the precise reason for this, (the track selection remained the same) but I'd love to know more, so if you have any information, we'd be most grateful. Of the new dressings I think my favourite is this one you see here left - a brilliant shellac 78 pastiche.
As a postscript 5 years on I'm sorry to report that like so many other brilliant independent Powerpop releases, David's album did not ship the units it deserved to catapult him and his band to widespread fame and appreciation. Also he seems to have disappeared off the radar in the intervening five years save a newer track we located on Soundcloud from 2008 which indicate that Mr Doll has lost none of his songwriting prowess.
This track plus two others that can be heard on MySpace and appear to come from an album called 'Stephen's Bargain Store'. What became of this, and indeed what David and Automat are doing now we don't know, the my space site information seems quite old - we would love to be assured he's still doing it and that we've not heard the last of the man and his band.
We can't even tell you where to buy a copy of the album as it seem to be out of print. You could ask Bruce Brodeen as it was his Not Lame label that had the good sense and taste to put the album out, but Bruce wrapped up Not lame a while ago. He now runs PopGeek Heaven so you could ask him there. Certainly do all you can to secure a copy of this fabulous record, even if you read it here for the first time 5 years after the original event!