Ted Leo & the Pharmacists released one of 2001's best albums. Tough as wire with hooks, power, and heart galore, The Tyranny of Distance is a modern-day punk classic -- hard to follow up convincingly, but Leo has cemented his place at the forefront of rock music in the year 2003 with his new record. Hearts of Oak is just as exciting and powerful as The Tyranny of Distance. Lyrically dense and literate, Leo tells a story like no one since Phil Lynott in the glory days of Thin Lizzy or maybe Kevin Rowland at the height of Dexy's peak. The Pharmacists' sound has elements of punk, mod, Irish folk, agit-funk, dub, and power pop played with controlled fury and topped by Leo's amazingly elastic vocals. The batch of songs on Hearts of Oak are all strong; the best are destined to be remembered the same way Leo remembers Thin Lizzy or the Specials. In fact, the record's best song is "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?," a touching ode to the Specials and the 2-Tone sound. The guitar breakdowns are naggingly catchy, the melody is instantly familiar, and when Leo hits the chorus and sings, "I asked Jerry He told Terry/Terry sang a song just for me/Lynval gave a message to me/Rhoda screamed and then she asked me/Where have all the rude boys gone?," you can't help but smile. "Hearts of Oak" is a towering, skitteringly funky song with loads of great percussion; "Dead Voices" comes closest to a straight pop song with the ringing power chords and Leo's impassioned falsetto; "The Crane Takes Flight" is an epic sea shanty with some whistling that doesn't suck; and "Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead" is a pounding rocker with some of Leo's best vocals and a cool ska ending. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists are playing the most exciting and original rock music around -- nobody else comes close. Hearts of Oak is a powerful and emotional record that you simply must own. Between this and The Tyranny of Distance, you are looking at a legend in the making.
Performance CreditsTed Leo & the Pharmacists Primary Artist
Chris Wilson Drums
Tiffany Anders Background Vocals
Ted Leo Organ,Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Human Whistle,Melodica,Hand Clapping
Jodi Buonanno Background Vocals,Human Whistle,Hand Clapping
Ida Pearle Violin,Human Whistle,Hand Clapping
Chris Leo Background Vocals,Human Whistle,Hand Clapping
Danny Leo Drums
David Lerner Bass Guitar
Dorien Garry Organ,Electric Piano,Background Vocals
Technical CreditsTed Leo Producer
Samara Lubelski Engineer
Nicolas Vernhes Producer,Engineer
Peter Kerlin Cover Photo
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hearts of Oak based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Ted Leo and his pharmacist cohorts are musical geniuses. 'Hearts of Oak' is an extremely refreshing audio treat. The song 'Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone' is the most likely candidate for radio/tv play and is plum full of vocal adventures, hypnotizing guitar riffs, and an overall catchy sound. The entire album is solid, though you may have to allow it to grow on you. If you don't like it the first time through, give it a few more plays before you make up your mind. You won't be disappointed.
This album contains pretty much everything a fan could ask for - great hooks, great lyrics, variety - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists rarely disappoint. From the irresistable catchiness of "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" to the great storytelling of "I'm a Ghost" to the slow, almost soulful guitar playing of "First to Finish, Last to Start" all contribute to make this album a winner, and a must-own.