Time for Heroes: The Best of the Libertines
It's actually a shame that Pete Doherty is best known in this country as Kate Moss's junkie boyfriend. But if Amy Winehouse proved anything this year, it's that one can be a walking, talking Physician's Desk Reference and still create some brilliant music. Doherty's main claim to fame, of course, was the brilliant Libertines, the band he co-led with Carl Barat. But he's still managed to create some mighty fine moments with Babyshambles, the band he formed in 2004 following the Libertines' sad dissolution.
The first Babyshambles album, Down In Albion, was, appropriately enough, a bit of a shambles, although it featured "Fuck Forever," the greatest pop-rock single of 2005 (typical of Doherty shooting himself in the foot, however, he released a great single that no radio station in the world would play due to its title; and yet the song still managed to reach No. 4 in the U.K. with no airplay). Last year's follow-up EP, The Blinding, was a more consistent effort, as is this latest release. The 12 tracks on Shotter's Nation prove that Doherty is still a modern ace king of the catchy rock hook and riff – and he stays true to many of his primary influences here, be it the Kinks, classic punk, the Stone Roses, and even a touch of pseudo-soul this time out. And yet, those hooks/riffs prove to be sort of the equivalent of what they say about Chinese food. They're catchy when listening to the album, but you tend to forget what you've heard 15 minutes after the album has finished.
If you're more eager for hooks and riffs that actually stick to your brain, then go no further than the new Libertines compilation, which presents a nice assortment of tracks from their two Mick Jones-produced albums, in addition to a few demo versions and single b-sides. After that, however, you may want to invest in both of the original albums – two of the best rock albums you'll hear this decade. If you took the best songs from the various Babyshambles releases, and then added the best tracks from last year's Dirty Pretty Things (Barat's new band) release, you'd have one helluva Libertines album. Here's hoping Doherty gets his act together and the band can reunite down the road to become as big as they deserve to be. For my money, they were the best real rock 'n' roll band to come down the pike since the Replacements imploded all those years ago.
Bill Holdship is the music editor of Metro Times Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.