The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are one of those groups with a perfect name. It’s mean, it’s nasty, but it’s also liberating, and just plain cool. Just like rock ‘n’ roll itself.
Back in the mid 90s, San Francisco high school kids Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes bonded over a love of 80s shoegaze and neo-psych. The pair took different paths for a spell. Hayes joined the Brian Jonestown Massacre for a few years, but by 1998 Been and Hayes were back together with Brit-transplant Nick Jago on board on drums. The trio called themselves the Elements, but it didn’t fit. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the name of Marlon Brando’s gang in The Wild One, did (astute music fans will take note that a certain 60s group from Liverpool took their name from the rival gang). A BBC channel in the U.K. grabbed one of their tunes, and they picked up a deal with Virgin Records and some high-profile fans like Oasis’s Noel Gallagher. They released their self-titled debut in 2000. The album is moody, back-alley, leather-jacket rock ‘n’ roll cool, and it set their sonic roadmap for the decade to come, even when they dipped into rootsy rock on their excellent 2005 record Howl.
Last week, the BRMC released their newest album Specter At The Feast. The first single off the record is a very special one for the band. It’s a cover of 80s alt-rockers The Call’s “Let The Day Begin.” The BRMC’s Robert Been is the son of The Call leader Michael Been. In 2010, the elder Been was helping out on his son’s band’s tour when he suffered a heart attack backstage, and passed away. The BRMC’s version of “Let The Day Begin” is right in their wheelhouse, and they deliver it with stomping flair. It’s a faithful tribute to Been’s late father.