Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Take Them On, On Your Own

Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubTake Them On, On Your Own (Virgin Records)

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” – A Bronx Tale

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s debut, B.R.M.C, was tantalizing. The thick reverb and dreamy vocals lent the otherwise typical garage rock a shoegaze quality. The songs were dark and haunting. Tomorrow held lots of promise for these fellas.

So it’s a surprise that their latest album, Take Them On, On Your Own, leaves a sour taste. The idea behind the album isn’t bad on paper—a record of twelve songs that sound like “Whatever Happened to My Rock N’ Roll (Punk Song),” one of BRMC’s best tracks. And it’s not really bad in its execution—the performances and production are good, for sure. The guitars are crisp, the drums pound and the bass thunders like on every great rock album [I thought it was the drums that do the thundering – ed.]. So why is Take Them On, On Your Own such a letdown? The songs. Forget the fact that the band have abandoned the droning bass lines and dreamy vocals of their debut in favor of more generic leather-jacket rock; the most disappointing thing about this album is that all of the power chords, tough-guy leads and call-to-action vocals are completely put to waste in songs that just aren’t that special. The songs here go through the motions, but none do enough to come off as memorable. They’re excellent in their ability to go unnoticed—nothing on this album jumps out. “And I’m Aching” changes pace and veers into typical ballad mode, dropping the tough guy act for the first time in BRMC’s short-lived career and comes away sounding like a Dashboard Confessional demo.

When BRMC was released, people took notice because during the boom of nu-garage bands that were all the supposed “next best thing,” Black Rebel Motorcycle Club actually sounded as if they could pull away from the pack. Now, they’ve resorted to the type of shite that has made their less accomplished peers substantially more profitable. I’d like to believe BRMC didn’t do it for the money—that the rock god act (although a bit overdone) was genuine, but I’m not sure. Either way, Take Them On, On Your Own is worse than bad. At least bad music gets a rise out of me—this album leaves me nothing to think about other then how hungry I am.

8 thoughts on “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Take Them On, On Your Own”

  1. hi!

    this may seem a bit convoluted to read at first, but i’m just passing it on completely unedited. it’s DEFINITELY something you’ll find interesting — GUARANTEED!

    — Larry Trujillo wrote:

    > Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 12:18:08 -0800

    > From: Larry Trujillo

    > To: steven hoag

    > Subject: Re: black poseur motorcycle club

    >

    > wow, this is crazy! thanks for sharing.

    >

    > steven hoag wrote:

    >

    > >hi!

    > >my name is steve hoag, and I am a freelance rock

    > >writer. I unfortunately missed your recent article

    > on

    > >the black rebel motorcycle club, but I did read the

    > >reader letter dissing them in “zero” and your

    > reply.

    > >the following email is quite provocative and

    > >interesting, especially for someone who finds these

    > >little rich boys to be as pretentious as I do (and

    > you

    > >seem to.) I received this email a year ago, just as

    > >the b.r.m.c.’s album was released on virgin. at

    > the

    > >time I had no idea who they were, but have since

    > seen

    > >them rise to relative prominence on the national

    > >stage, so I have done a little research on my own

    > to

    > >confirm the claims made in the email. I discovered

    > >the source to be reputable, and the claims mostly

    > >confirmably true (if a bit exagerrated in spots)…

    > >you may have received this email already as I

    > >understand it’s already made the rounds of the rock

    > >press. Independent of this, I can confirm from

    > local

    > >band M.Headphone (who rehearsed in the same

    > building

    > >as the b.r.m.c. in san francisco before they

    > relocated

    > >to l.a.) that a lot of this sounds familiar and

    > >feasible…. in addition, local rock producer greg

    > >freeman used to be in the band “the call” with the

    > >brmc guy’s dad and wrote an extensive story for

    > >legendary sf rock mag bananafish in the late 90’s

    > >detailing the hilarious neuroses and outlandish

    > >behavior of michael been during his stint in the

    > band

    > >(I believe that can be found at http://www.bananafish.com)

    > >— enjoy the read and please lemme know if you

    > know

    > >anything about these claims … sincerely, steve

    > hoag-

    > >

    > >

    > >>To: [email protected],

    > >>[email protected], [email protected]

    > >>

    > >>just in case you guys fall for the hype

    > surrounding

    > >>the new virgin records band b.r.m.c. a/k/a the

    > black

    > >>rebel motorcycle club, lemme give you the REAL

    > story

    > >>behind these guys…

    > >>

    > >>do you remember the 80’s band ‘the call’ – well

    > they

    > >>had a few minor hits (“the walls came down”, and

    > >>”let

    > >>the day begin” among them) and they were sort of

    > on

    > >>the christian rock bandwagon, tryin to follow in

    > the

    > >>footsteps of the popularity of bands like U2 and

    > >>simple minds… well their

    > frontman/bassist/singer,

    > >>michael been, is actually the

    > >>instigator/brains-behind/guru/mentor behind the

    > >>black

    > >>rebel motorcycle club… in reality, the band is

    > >>carefully constructed to be a kind of ‘britpop

    > >>backstreet boys’ with michael been behind the

    > scenes

    > >>pulling the strings, much the way lou pearlman did

    > >>with backstreet and n’sync — only michael been

    > >>receives very little explicit credit — and why?

    > >>well

    > >>because his son is in the group, and he wants it

    > to

    > >>appear as if his son has made it on his own,

    > >>avoiding

    > >>the stigma of kids of musicians whose success gets

    > >>tagged to their parents’ connections — only you

    > >>won’t

    > >>know that from reading the liner notes, because

    > >>michael’s son robert been has inexplicable become

    > >>”robert turner” … even more amazingly, if you

    > >>acquire the 1995 island records self-titled

    > release

    > >>by

    > >>a band called ‘beggars’ (out of print) you’ll find

    > a

    > >>picture of robert been/turner on the cover as

    > >>well…

    > >>only THIS time his name is ‘robert locke’—is it

    > a

    > >>coincidence that michael been PRODUCED this

    > >>album????

    > >>you can’t run from your history – to quote

    > >>’magnolia’

    > >>”you may be thru with the past but the past isn’t

    > >>thru

    > >>with you” — this kind of dishonesty is in my mind

    > >>fucking bullshit – a sham – and completely

    > contrary

    > >>to

    > >>everything music is supposed to be about …

    > >>incidentally, i can tell you if you look up the

    > >>official publishing on the beggars’ songs (which

    > are

    > >>on the album creditted only to ‘the beggars’), you

    > >>will find michael been’s name in there as a writer

    > >>on

    > >>every song !!— AND the same is true on the new

    > >>b.r.m.c. release– michael been receives no

    > mention

    > >>other than a “special thanks”, yet, if you find

    > the

    > >>official songwriting credits thru warner-chappell

    > >>music, you’ll find his name on there — what kind

    > of

    > >>fucking scam is this guy tryin to perpetrate?!! i

    > >>can

    > >>tell you on good authority (altho i have no proof)

    > >>that he actually produced the b.r.m.c. album as

    > >>well,

    > >>preferring to remain anonymous — do you REALLY

    > >>think

    > >>a multinational corporation like virgin records is

    > >>gonna let a trio of 21-year-old boys with NO

    > studio

    > >>experience produce their major-label debut

    > >>themselves??! (they are creditted as the sole

    > >>producers) (incidentally, their age is one of the

    > >>few

    > >>things they’re honest about — they are very

    > young,

    > >>and robert been/locke/turner was only 16 when the

    > >>beggars album was made, michael been however,

    > seems

    > >>to

    > >>shave a year or two off his age every time a new

    > >>press

    > >>release comes out — he’s AT LEAST 53 according to

    > >>my

    > >>sources, but claims to be 42 — i guess he was 12

    > >>when

    > >>he made his recording debut with the h.p.

    > lovecraft

    > >>reunion project in the early 70s!) … michael

    > been,

    > >>who i have met on many occasions, is possibly the

    > >>biggest asshole in the world. he claims to be a

    > >>devout

    > >>christian, yet like many so-called religious

    > people,

    > >>he is a devil in disguise… he has manipulated

    > his

    > >>son and one of his son’s orphaned childhood

    > friends

    > >>(i

    > >>don’t know anything about their drummer) into

    > >>becoming

    > >>his dream band, living out his failed frustated

    > >>dreams

    > >>of superstardom since he’s now too old and fat

    > (he’s

    > >>at about 350lbs) to do it himself … the b.r.m.c.

    > >>is

    > >>a reflection of michael been’s ideal band and he

    > has

    > >>gone to great lengths to create this phenomenon

    > —

    > >>whether this stems from some strange erotic

    > >>pedophillic fantasy i cannot say, but i do know

    > >>this:

    > >>you can contact their manager dan russell if you

    > >>have

    > >>any questions about the band (his contact info is

    > in

    > >>their liner notes) … incidentally, mr. russell

    > >>runs

    > >>fingerprint records, a christian rock label out of

    > >>the

    > >>boston area … incidentally, that’s the label the

    > >>last several call/michael been solo albums have

    > been

    > >>released on …. thanks for your time …. >

    > >>__________________________________________________

    > >>Do You Yahoo!?

    > >>Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.

    > >>http://personal.mail.yahoo.com/

    > >>

    > >

    > >

    > >__________________________________________________

    > >Do You Yahoo!?

    > >LAUNCH – Your Yahoo! Music Experience

    > >http://launch.yahoo.com

    > >

    > >

    >

    >

  2. i have an email like that somewhere as well, except it deals with a nigerian aristocrat who needs to wire some funds into my bank account.

  3. As an admitted Motorcyle Club fan(who couldn’t disagree more with above review slamming new record), I’m not sure how to take this e-mail. I’m not sure if I care. It was posted by a “freelance rock writer”(I’ll leave that alone out of niceness) who has no sources to reference, beyond a SF band I’ve never heard of(looking for publicity?) and a Call band member who played on their first three records(who is just out to embarass someone he worked with-sounds like cubicle politics). The e-mail itself has no sources referenced or even a name claiming authorship. It’s gutless. If someone was trying to pull back the curtain like Toto and reveal the little man behind the spectacle, you’d think that they wouldn’t hide behind anonymity if it were true. Oh, wait, I suppose the elder Been would put out a hit on such an intrepid “journalist”.

  4. Dear Mr. Hoag

    I have also met Michael Been after seeing the call perform and he was anything but an asshole.

    In reality he is one of the nicest rockers that I have ever come across. As far as his son is concerned, why do you care if he is behind the seens; So what. A lot of young bands have somebody turning the so called knobs and that would include the Beatles. You have to admit they developed their later sound with the help of George Martin( the fifth Beatle)Futhermore, the Greg Freeman isue sounds like sour grapes to me becuase inrality the Call sounded better as a quartet.

    Take care

    Patrick

  5. I hate to say it, but their first album was awesome, and I was all stoked to hear their newest work.

    Unfortunately I really don’t like their new album at all. In fact I was so bummed I can?t bare to listen to it anymore.

    When I get into a BRMC mood I love putting in red eyes and tears or what happened to my rock n roll, songs like those.

    This new stuff sucks. It sounds the same as a million other bands, and they lost their original sound in the new album.

    I really want these guys to understand how much we like them, and how much they rock, but this new album doesn?t do it for me like the 2001 release.

    Perhaps they need to do more drugs? _evil grin_

    Perhaps they need to stop doing so many drugs?

    Whatever the case may be, I think they still have another good album or more in there souls.

    If you?re reading this BRMC; don?t give up, you seriously rock. So what if this newest album doesn?t sound as good.

    I still think you guys are great..

    Peace,

    -D

  6. Oh well, so their not the genuine article and people say they monkee around, but they’re too busy singin to put anybody down. I really don’t care what the origins of the band are, I still like ’em. And while the new album leaves something to be desired, I thought the first album was great, and if they came to my town, I’d go see them. I agree, the Virgin records affiliation is suspicious and the whole image is, well, kind of hokey, but Clear Channel FM can certainly use a new Jesus & Mary Chain, so why shouldn’t BRMC be the ones to do it? I mean, compared to everything else on rock radio now (Linkin Bizkit, Creed Jam as well as numerous Radiohead and U2 impersonators-some good, some not so), you have to admit they’re kind of cool. Plus, this will make a great VH1 Behind the Music one day.

    EB

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