October 30, 2003

The Repeat Button: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

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This Saturday, 7 p.m. at the Noyes Community Center, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will bring their boisterous combination of fuzz drenched indie rock and The Clash styled song structure. It’s a must see show, as Ted Leo is known for the breakneck speed of his sets. Though you may not have heard of Ted Leo, you’ve probably unknowingly heard the single, “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” from his latest album, Hearts of Oak, currently in rotation on MTV2.

It’s a pick-me up song, opening with an insatiable guitar hook and followed by firm, pulsing bass. After a prolonged instrumental introduction, Ted Leo’s voice quickly dominates the song. His vocal timbre is rather unique as it ranges from energetic shouts and spoken lyrics to high-pitched, belting “ooo’s,” which are then mimicked by the the guitar.

Leo sings “It’s times like these when a neck looks for a knife, a wrist for a razor, a heart is longing for bullets/ Tension is high under the sea and over sky,” as he longs for a time when “we could dance and be free.” “Where Have all the Rude Boys Gone” calls for a return “to that two-tone beat,” an ode to the late ’70s ska of The Specials, though the song evokes Thin Lizzy.

Halfway through the song, everything comes to a near halt. The whole thing winds down, only to be picked up once again by the guitar hook that kicked the song off. For the final verses and refrains of the song, the bass steers the song towards an entirely new melody centered around Leo and his backup’s repeating vocals: “I asked Jerry, he told Terry, Terry sang a song just for me