Pal Joey...and Marky
This is...the Savage Young Wallys
On the Double
On the Double Records
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There hasn't been anything new to say about The Wallys since the Ramones released their eponymous debut in 1976, and The Ramones Leave Home and Rocket to Russia a year later. At best, the last relevant commentary on the band came and went with The Queers' 1993 album, Love Songs for the Retarded. Sure, The Donnas made the formula--short songs with long titles referring to things the band does and does not want to do--seem fresh again, but let's face it, the only difference was that they were girls; The Wallys, unfortunately, have nothing so revolutionary to offer. And you can figure all this out without once listening to the band's first long-player, recently released on Ontario, Canada's Amp Records. Just look at the cover photo of the group--singer-guitarist James Danger, bassist Chad Wally, and (now former) drummer Mikey Makeout--doing its best leather-jackets-and-jeans impression of Joey, Johnny, Marky, and Dee Dee. Or check out the song titles: "I Don't Wanna Dance With You," "Rockaway Beach 2," and "Gaba Gaba Hey I Love You." (Apparently, "Sheena is Still a Punk Rocker" and "Beat on the Brat Pack" didn't make the cut.)
At least The Wallys don't waste too much time filling in the few remaining blanks. Only one of the album's 15 tracks is longer than two minutes, and--surprise--every one of them sounds like Joe Queer fronting the pre-Animal Boy Ramones; cover bands aren't as faithful as The Wallys are on This is... You almost wish The Wallys would just decide to cover one of the Ramones' albums in its entirety (like the Queers, Screeching Weasel, and the Mr. T Experience have done in the past few years) and save everyone the trouble. Every song is an, uh, original, but only in the way the band manages to combine and recombine the same three or four pilfered riffs. Not that The Wallys try to hide their thievery: "Come On Let's Dance," as the title suggests, is a mish-mash of Ritchie Valens' "Come On Let's Go" and the Ramones' version of "Do You Wanna Dance." Better find a lawyer.
On the Double's debut fares a bit better, if only because its hero worship isn't as obvious--mainly because the band has so many heroes, it hasn't yet decided which one it wants to be. Old Specials-English Beat-Selecter gets the nod a few times ("Two Tone," the title track), as do Rancid ("Side Kick Trend") and the Descendents ("High School Sweetheart"). Day One almost resembles a compilation disc at times, as the group makes itself over in the few seconds between songs, swapping out its identity like ska-punk Artemis Gordons, hiding behind its idols until you can't see them at all. Which doesn't make it all that different from The Wallys. But if nothing else, On the Double isn't hiding in the same place every time.