Do you remember 1955? Me either, so we’re probably both way off here, but in my head it was just like the world presented on City Wide Special, the new album from Philly no-fi garage rockers The Whips, a tough, street-wise world where dudes in leather jackets rumbled endlessly for turf with flick knives and zip guns and the girls all wore tight skirts and chewed bubblegum, and a prepubescent Johnny Thunders formed a doo-wop band with the other 4th grade delinquents on his stoop. The Whips would really fit right in with that scene. Stylish 50’s gang-banger Cape Man woulda loved ’em, I’m sure of it.
City Wide Special wavers between a sorta teen-crooner doo-woppy vibe and snarly mid 60’s garage punk but it’s all filtered through this low-fidelity gauze that sounds sorta like the Misfits jamming with Paul Anka in a sewer drain three streets away. It’s a pervasively dreamy album from the transistor radio mono production to the lyrics about making out with girls in high school bathrooms and at rock n’ roll dance parties to the lime green, Herb Alpert-y cover.
Highlights include opener Hot Tone, a fang-toothed cruncher that sounds like the MC5 if you recorded them on actual masking tape, the gloomy, last slow dance of the night bummer ballad Hey Rusty, and the bruising Kinks-in-a- blender rave-up All Night Long. If you like gritty rock n’ roll, ducktail haircuts, and dirty black summers, this is the album for you.