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November 25, 2008 |

By TK Burton | Music | November 25, 2008 |

Like contemplating what we did before cell phones, it is a wonder to think how bands garnered support before the internet. How many bands never exploded onto the scene, but could have if they had an outlet to showcase their talents like Myspace?

One Philly based band I discovered recently, well past their prime, was the new-wave/rock band The A’s. They were big in the city, and had a couple of opening slots on big east coast tours back in the late 70’s early 80’s. But they never got too far outside the Phila-NJ-Delaware tri-state area in popularity.

Throughout their span 1978-1982, they had 2 albums and a self-produced EP (all yet to be re-released on CD). As any band evolves, the transition from their self-titled album (1979), to the follow-up A Woman’s Got The Power (1981) showed their growth and expansion of sound.

A%27s%20Covers.JPGCover Art for the Self Titled album & A Woman’s Got The Power

On their self titled record, singer Richard Bush’s vocals explode with a jittery energy with similarities to what Elvis Costello was up to around the same time. This is a perfect translation from their live experiences, (thanks to youtube), which were sweaty, energetic, dance-filled shows. The synth/keyboard support to the power-guitar melodic hooks should have placed them up in the forefront alongside bands like The Knack and The Cars. Perhaps the best track on the album is “Teenage Jerkoff,” which straddles the border between power-pop and dance-punk. It’s bouncy, all-over-the-place, pop sound could have scored a spot on any of XTC’s early records.

“A Woman’s Got the Power”

Two years of growth grounded Bush’s vocals, apparent at the start of their second album (and title track) “A Woman’s Got the Power.” It possesses a soothing calm and deep R&B soul that is hard to believe comes from the same band. That confidence and depth continue through out the album. The A’s shed their jittery past (not necessarily a good thing), and head toward a Middle American-Mellencamp tone, with tracks like “Heart of America,” “When The Rebel Comes Home,” “Working Man” and “Johnny Silent.” The complex songs and a slower over-all tempo were crafted in preparation to follow on the heels of their prosperous friends, The Hooters. But unfortunately, that never happened for them, as they descended into self-destruction via interior dilemmas and lack of interest from their label.

The A’s on TV

To catch a glimpse of what they might have been like, Richard Bush has a new band in the Philly Area (for 2-3 years) called The Peace Creeps. They will occasionally do an A’s cover or two. And Rick DiFonzo (lead guitarist) has his own band, creatively called The Rick DiFonzo Band.

“After Last Night”

Through snow, wind & rain, ShepRitz is probably bicycling through Philly at this very moment. Or he’s on a tennis court. 50/50 chance, really. More of his discoveries can be viewed at thrift store music.

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Old School Philly

The A's / ShepRitz

Music | November 25, 2008 |

TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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