Billy Talent



A cursory glance at any of the advance reviews will reveal that these Billy boys are already being touted as bona fide contenders in the punk-influenced hard-rock sweepstakes, albeit in a classically derivative kinda way.

And although it’s true that Billy Talent is from Toronto, please don’t hold that against the band because the Canadian Homeland Insecurity Act mandates under federal law that the hometown mayor of any Canuck band with a Yankee record deal declare a civic holiday in their honor — and I sure could use an extra day off.

As for them being derivative, well, suffice to say that lead singer Benjamin Kowalewicz takes turns alternately sounding like Axl Rose or Johnny Rotten. But since both those grizzled geezers are terminally past their prime, who can blame him for filling a vocal vacancy?

Furthermore, these Billy buds nicked their band name from a character in Hard Core Logo, which may be a hip movie move to some, but it’s not nearly as coolly arcane as if they’d named themselves Billy Porter after the Mick Ronson song. However, they more than make up for it with a Day-Glo album cover that combines the Dirty Harry and Reservoir Dogs movie posters.

Which makes a whole lot of style sense given that Billy Talent is a paint-blistering blast of amped-up attitude with nary a ballad in the ballast tank to unbalance the bludgeoning beats. Of course, the primal picture they’re painting is nothing but a canvas of contrivance that comes strictly from an angst-by-numbers kit. But I still like them anyway, even though there’s nothing on this record that’s even remotely threatening.

Oh, they may sound like a lean, mean, rockin’ machine, but on paper it’s an entirely different story. Y’see, a quick look at the lyric sheet betrays Billy Talent’s true roots in that there’s only one word on display which could even remotely be construed as being offensive to anyone, and it’s spelled “S****y.”

That’s right, in the year 2003 their one and only dirty little word is censored. Not as a song title on the back cover where anyone can see it, mind you, but as a lyric buried inside the booklet where you need a magnifying glass to find it.

How typically inoffensively Canadian.

On second thought, you can keep your lousy day off.


Billy Talent and Spitalfield will perform at the Shelter (431 E. Congress, Detroit) on Saturday, Dec. 13. Call 313-961-MELT for info.

E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at

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