July 15, 2009

The Nerves: short-lived, oft-remembered

I've recently become infatuated with the brief but exceptional output of the Nerves after discovering their original recording of "Hangin' On The Telophone." Originally released in 1976 on the band's self-titled EP, Jack Lee's song achieved limited success. But just two years later—after the Nerves had disbanded—"Hangin' On A Telephone" became a smash hit and defining single for Blondie. The Nerves were just a little too ahead of their time. The three band members went on to have successful careers in other groups, including The Plimsouls (Peter Case) and The Beat (Paul Collins), but it's their work together that is most fondly remembered.

Perhaps the Nerves' greatest achievement is the blazingly sharp Beatles-inspired power-pop tune "When You Find Out." Written after a hitchhiking trip to Portland, the song's built on a simple and cleanly delivered chord structure, grooving bass line, snappy drums and lyrics sung with a raspy precision and cool desperation by Peter Case.

Paul Collins: "Peter wrote that song, and I will never forget listening to him as he recorded it in that little 16-track Chinese studio on Union Street in San Francisco. It still brings goose bumps. He is without a doubt one of rock’s finest singers."

The Nerves - "When You Find Out" (from The Nerves EP)

The Nerves

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