Stockholm and Hollywood lie many miles apart on a globe, but the Backyard Babies perfectly bridge the distance between those two worlds and bring a little bit of each to Paris on their new album, Live Live in Paris. While their countrymen, the Hellacopters, may be slightly more well known on this side of the pond, things may be about to change.
Hardly the new act on the strip, Backyard Babies has been punking up Metal and Garage since the late eighties, but just try getting some of their records in this country, and you'll have some understanding of the degree to which they have infiltrated the American market. Their signing by Liquor and Poker along with some high profile tours, including a stint with Social Distortion, could have the band well on their way to becoming a household name, at least in those households with underground rock worshipping sons, daughters, mothers and fathers.
Following the release of Tinnitus on Liquor and Poker last year, which featured a selection of songs from their most recent work that hasn't made it to the States, the Backyard Babies are gathering momentum in the race to become the next big thing from overseas that rocks the leather pants off of most domestic Rock and Roll. While that release may have showcased the more Hanoi Rocks than MC5 brand of sing-a-long sleaze the Backyard Babies are known for, it is on this live tour de force that the band really shines. On Live Live in Paris the Babies explode in an anthemically loose utterly catchy performance. The guitars of Dregen, formerly of the Hellacopters, and Nicke Borg are loaded for bear or maybe it's elk in Sweden? From riffier numbers like, "One Sound" to all-out, fist-in-the-air, guitar clinic anthems like "Heaven 2.9" the pair never slow down. In fact, the rhythm section of Peder Carlsson and Johan Blomquist seem to be the only ones who can keep up with their bandmates.
As live albums go, Live Live in Paris feels decidedly retro as it combines a more classic mentality as far as the still slightly muddy mix goes but rips through the speakers with all modern technology has to offer in the way of production. Borg has the assistance of the entire audience in singing every tune, but the crowd never overwhelms the music. Live Live in Paris is all about that perfect balance between order and chaos that all great live albums seem to have. The set list mixes some older numbers like "Look at You" and "UFO Romeo" with some material from the Tinnitus album and a couple of new songs from a forthcoming album called, the Stockholm Syndrome. Of these, "A Song for the Outcast" stands out and leads one to hope that the new record actually makes it out in this country.
While the Backyard Babies may owe more to Hollywood glitter than to the legacy of Death and Black metal seeping out of Scandanavia, the group put a unique stamp on that sound that's a little bit punk and a lot adrenaline. There's an edge and grit to their music, just listen to a song like "Highlights", which disposes of all of the androgynous cheesiness polluting other bands in dozens of other countries that have tried to make this kind of combination work. They don't take themselves quite as seriously as some of their fellow Swedes either, but it works to their advantage and injects the concert with enough fun to make it a disc worthy of playing over and over.
Indeed, Backyard Babies are quite the international experience. They are a proudly Swedish band, playing in France, but singing and speaking entirely in English. You don't have to be multilingual to appreciate this band, however, because they speak the universal language of Rock. Riff Riff Guitar solo Drums Yeah. Now that beats Esperanto every time.