EDDIE & THE HOT RODS - Do Anything You Wanna Do

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Though nowhere near as powerful nor all-encompassing as the earlier End of the Beginning compilation, Do Anything You Wanna Do nevertheless serves as an introduction to the crucial origins of Eddie & the Hot Rods, pursuing them through not only two vital albums (and one so-so follow-up), but also the clutch of singles and EPs that established the band in the first place. Overall, the collection is too one-dimensional to truly represent the awesome power of the Hot Rods. That earlier compilation proved that live cuts from the Marquee and Sound of Speed EPs are probably the best testament to the group; though the studio work was exemplary, effortlessly recapturing the essence of the concert experience, it was on-stage that the Hot Rods still made their greatest impact. Here, just a handful of in-concert songs are allowed to disrupt the flow while, similarly, the apocalyptic epics with which the band rounded off its first two albums, "On the Run" and "Beginning of the End"/"We Sing...The Cross," are criminally absent. So what does that leave? Basically, not much. The hit "Do Anything You Wanna Do" is the highlight, of course, but its still considerable impact is ultimately nullified by the succession of other cuts in a similar mold, which dignified Life on the Line but utterly hamstringed Thriller. In their original surroundings, you could forgive the band for throwing in the occasional transparent power pop gems. But when they just fly at you relentlessly, it doesn't only start getting tiresome, it also gets harder to tell them apart. Anyone who wants the Knack will buy the Knack. Some variety comes with an awkward remake of "Woolly Bully" recorded with the MC5's Rob Tyner in an attempt to blend old punk with new, but the experiment was never that well designed to begin with, and the reality hasn't improved. Indeed, the still sublime "Quit This Town" notwithstanding, there's very little about this album that makes you want to race out and hear more of the group. Which isn't simply a shameful failing, it's tantamount to musical treason.