Whoa. Where do you start with this record, the classic Lifesavers Underground album that yielded a handful of Mike Knott’s iconic songs. We’re talking Die Baby Die, Plague of Flies and Shaded Pain. The record bleeds with punk-rock honesty, with haunting lyrics and vocals. It’s also raw and full of angst, a moody, brooding rock record that doesn’t disappoint.
And while the three aforementioned songs are absolutely outstanding, Tether To Tassel has always been a favorite of mine, and Lonely Boy is oh so good. And the record would not be complete without More to Life, which features a great guitar riff and Knott’s voice alternating between high-pitched wailing and the near-whispered chorus line of “there’s something more to life.” In a word, brilliant. The song sets the stage beautifully for the showstopper Shaded Pain, which is stripped down to piano and accompanies Knott’s anguished singing.
Yup, Shaded Pain is definitely a don’t-miss record from Knott’s catalogue and the best of the Lifesavers/Lifesavors/L.S.Underground bunch. It has a garage-band feel to it, the kind of rough-around-the-edges punk flavour that adds to the record’s appeal. And it has Knott painting beautiful soundscapes with gritty lyrics and superb song structures. This is also definitely a record that only gets better with age.
Well, the thing about Mike Knott is that he really is a chameleon, which he sings about on Life of David. But I’m not talking about that type of chameleon, rather, his uncanny ability to play many generes, and not only do that, but do it well. Poplife was an enjoyable serving of simple-to-a-fault lo-fi surf rock, and I love the feel of this record. It has that beach vibe, that lying on your beach towel too-tired-to-get-up-and-go-in-the-water lazy day feeling.
Jet Plane just so happens to be one of my favorite Knott songs of all time. And It’s a Crazy Thing is another Knott gem, a song that translates well as an acoustic number too. At times the record sounds like the life was drained right out of Knott, who also released This is the Healing the same year. But the vibe works.
For sure, this is not one of Knott’s classics. There are other, better records in his discography. But for some reason this record has always struck my fancy, which means I’ve played it a lot. Like I said, the music itself is simple and laid back, with that too-lazy-to-get-up-off-the-couch-and-turn-the-channel mood you used to get in the days prior to the invention of the remote control. You may like Poplife, but chances are you’ll think it’s nothing special. But, in the true vibe of the record, whatever.