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The Nerves - One Way Ticket
The Nerves - One Way Ticket

Track Listing
1. One Way Ticket
2. Paper Dolls
3. Hanging On The Telephone
4. When You Find Out
5. Working Too Hard
6. Give Me Some Time
7. Walking Out on Love (The Breakaways)
8. Thing of the Past (Plimsouls)
9. It's Hot Outside (Jack Lee)
10. Too Many Roads to Follow (demo)
11. Are You Famous? (live from the Magical Blistering Tour)
12. Why Am I Lonely? (live)
13. You Won't Be Happy (live)
14. Any Day Now (live)
15. Letter to G. (live)
16. Come Back and Stay (live)
17. I Need Your Love (live)
18. Stand Back and Take a Good Look (demo)
19. Are You Famous (demo, CD only)
20. Letter to G. (demo, CD only)

The Nerves - Live From Pirate
The Nerves - Live From Pirate's Cove

Track Listing
1. Are You Famous?
2. Stand Back & Take A Good Look
3. Walking Out On Love
4. Will You Come Through?
5. Working Too Hard
6. When You Find Out
7. Give Me Some Time
8. Any Day Now
9. Why Am I Lonely?
10. You Wont Be Happy
11. Letter To G.
12. Come Back And Stay
13. I Need Your Love
14. Hanging On The Telephone

If Debbie Harry’s declaration in “Hanging on the Telephone” that “I can’t control myself” has always struck you as a little too coolly delivered to be credible, you owe it to yourself to hear the song’s writer Jack Lee go totally apoplectic in the original version by the Nerves. Yes, like Gloria Jones or Big Mama Thornton, the Nerves are destined to be “the band that did the original version of” someone else’s signature tune—but they’re also recalled as the almost-legendary ur-trio that launched the careers of LA mainstays Paul Collins and Peter Case (of the even nearer miss the Plimsouls). The bare-bones anthology One Way Ticket scrapes together the band’s entire released output (four songs), plus unreleased singles, offshoots, live tracks, and demos—all told, 20 two-minute tracks revealing where power-pop came from and where it was going. And it reveals, in Lee, an unjustly forgotten missing link in American music history.

As its title implies, “One Way Ticket” is a song in the shadow of Alex Chilton: “Gimme a one-way ticket” replaces “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,” and the reckless romantic energy pays tribute to the Big Star founder’s early pop hit. The song, a Case joint, was recorded as a single but Case and Collins split from Lee before its release; its flipside is “Paper Dolls” by Lee, and features the guitarist doing some very pre-Peter Buck jangling to go along with his raspy vocals.

All three of the Nerves wrote songs and sang; “Hanging on the Telephone” was one of Lee’s two contributions to their self-titled 1976 EP. His “Give Me Some Time”, along with “When You Find Out” (Case) and “Working Too Hard” (Collins) are all in the same very British Invasion-influenced vein: Corny and straightforward relationship-driven lyrics, harmonies, chiming guitars, and rubbery, bluesy bass.

Each of the members gets a post-breakup number. “Walking Out on Love” is a sweet-natured Collins rave-up recorded with Case and a new guitarist, and “Thing of the Past” is an early, sweaty live Plimsouls track, but pay special attention to Lee’s “It’s Hot Outside.” Put it in an echo chamber and it could be a filler track on the Replacements’ Tim—say, “Dose of Thunder.” This isn’t surprising—nobody loved power-pop more than the band that gave the world “Alex Chilton.”

Speaking of which, the CD collection closes with three demos from “early ’76,” the earliest songs on the disc. The demos are very much in the Big Star mode, if far less polished: A Nuggets-style mix of bubblegum teen-pop and a fuzz that comes equally from psych-pop and the proto-punk raw power of live-in-the-garage Middle Americanness.

A number of live tracks from 1977, though, are rougher, sloppier, a little more unstable. Take the band out of LA—away from skinny-tie studio accessibility—and they’re a completely different act. In fact, they’re an act about exactly halfway between Big Star and the Replacements. Not coincidentally, almost all the live songs are Lee’s—he’s the hero of the anthology, despite having mostly dropped off the face of the earth until resurfacing on the nostalgia circuit very recently. Case and Collins, though, stayed in Los Angeles and kept the beat, only to see the Knack—even hookier, even more professional—burst through the door they’d knocked down with “My Sharona” in 1979. From there, trace power-pop into its eventual convergence, along with most other late-’70s/early-’80s genres, in new wave: The backup singers of Tommy Tutone chanting a phone number in 1982 and the Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away” on the Valley Girl soundtrack in 1983. While meanwhile, at the roots of the Mississippi, a bunch of teenagers who didn’t know nearly so many chords whaled away at their own doesn’t-know-its-own-strength power-pop. - MARK ASCH / CRAWDADDY


Surprise: The longest-awaited album of the season is not Chinese Democracy. In fact, it’s not even the most extensively delayed album by an L.A. band. That honor goes to the Nerves. After nearly 30 years of being transmitted in the form of bootlegs and mixtapes, of being covered by other bands, of becoming the stuff of rock & roll legend, the Nerves’ four-song EP has finally seen a proper reissue on Alive Records’ new One Way Ticket — along with unreleased tracks, demos and live cuts. And guess what? It’s better than Chinese Democracy, and cost $13 million less to record.

The Nerves were the trio of guitarist Peter Case, bassist Jack Lee and drummer Paul Collins. The band orginally formed in San Francisco and eventually moved down to L.A., where they recorded an EP and cultivated a small scene of like-minded pop acts with tiny budgets. They supported the Ramones, and managed to shore up enough bread for a national tour. That lone recorded document of their brief career ended up being regarded as a hallmark of what was eventually termed “power pop.”

The Nerves’ EP is one of those items — like a bootleg videotape of a rare kung fu movie — that gets passed around between friends to get people in the know. “OAh, you like Guided By Voices? Well, wait’ll you hear the Nerves!”

It contains four numbers: “When You Find Out,” “Working Too Hard,” “Give Me Some Time” and “Hanging on the Telephone.” The last track probably looks familiar, and it should: While touring in Japan, Blondie heard the song in their limo and covered it as the opener on their now-canonical 1979 album Parallel Lines. Their version was released as a single and charted at No. 5 in the U.K. The song would be reinterpreted by a number of artists down the line — including Cat Power and Def Leppard — and, like most songs referencing phones, it landed in cell-phone commercials.

Anyone hearing the Nerves’ original recording of “Hanging on the Telephone” might be surprised. Blondie embellished the song with so many new-wave accoutrements (frilly organs, laser-guided guitar parts) that it was rendered into a blanched version of the original. The minimal instrumentation of the Nerves’ version, with the hoarse howl of its vocals and brisk pace, sounds more like the youthful vigor of early Beatles than the stylish sheen of new wave.

The remaining three tracks possess the same jaunty rhythms, deft instrumental interplay, bottled-up enthusiasm, sharp vocal harmonies and unflappable hooks that characterize the first Beatles singles.

But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after their tour, the Nerves disbanded. Case and Collins attempted to re-form the band with a new guitarist under the moniker the Breakaways, but that turned out to have an even briefer life span than its predecessor. Lee penned a couple more songs for other artists before vanishing from the music industry. Collins went on to form the Beat, while Case carried on with the Plimsouls before creating a rather successful solo career for himself (even garnering a Grammy in recent years). Although these later careers eventually bore more monetarily successful fruits, on purely musical grounds their accomplishments are dwarfed by the influence and ingenuity of the Nerves’ four-song EP. It will endure long after Chinese Democracy is finally buried. - TAL ROSENBERG / LA WEEKLY


Got a hormonally explosive, just post-adolescent relative on your gift list who still thinks Fall Out Boy is power pop? Well, set him straight with a combo history lesson/girl obsession classic. For aficionados of first-era power pop (roughly 1977-82), the 4-song 7? The Nerves EP this Cali combo released in 1977 is not just a bristling batch of perfect, punk-prodded pop, but a viable argument stopper for where the genre began. Plus, all three members went on to create more influential pop gold (in collector desirability if not actual sales).
Singer/bassist Peter Case had the most success with the ‘80s band, the Plimsouls; drummer Paul Collins formed the Beat, releasing a few super slabs (and are back with a new record on Get Hip); and singer/guitarist Jack Lee’s career petered out the quickest with some personal problems that are barely hidden in his sparkly gems. Lee wrote “Hanging On The Telephone” (later a hit for Blondie), featuring the closing, repeated plea of “Hang up and run to me,” that is one of the most purely heart-wrenching codas of that era.
That EP is all here, Rickenbackers ringing and scruff harmonies yearning clearer than ever. While those songs and some of the other demos and live tracks on this 20-track compilation have appeared over the years in various quasi-legit versions, usually on small European labels (you wouldn’t believe what a star Case is in Orleans, France), this is the first official release of all the Nerves and immediately post-Nerves related material, with liner notes from Case no less - in other words, the holy moley grail for power pop fans. Had they the cash to make that first EP an album - adding in the sugar rush of “Walking Out On Love” and “Letter To G,” or the mood-piece pound, “Are You Famous” - the Nerves might’ve supplanted the Knack and saved power pop from its cheeky legacy.

Standard motifs of skinny ties and “The” band names have reduced the era to a fad; and the genre phrase is flung around so much today it’s become an enervated catch-all for anything vaguely upbeat with vintage guitars played by earnest 20-somethings. Well forget that and grab this One Way Ticket to a time when a band could rankle fellow too-tough punk scensters by simply covering the Beatles. - ERIC DAVIDSON / CMJ


Surprise: The longest-awaited album of the season is not Chinese Democracy. In fact, it’s not even the most extensively delayed album by an L.A. band. That honor goes to the Nerves. After nearly 30 years of being transmitted in the form of bootlegs and mixtapes, of being covered by other bands, of becoming the stuff of rock & roll legend, the Nerves’ four-song EP has finally seen a proper reissue on Alive Records’ new One Way Ticket - along with unreleased tracks, demos and live cuts. And guess what? It’s better than Chinese Democracy, and cost $13 million less to record.

The Nerves were the trio of guitarist Peter Case, bassist Jack Lee and drummer Paul Collins. The band orginally formed in San Francisco and eventually moved down to L.A., where they recorded an EP and cultivated a small scene of like-minded pop acts with tiny budgets. They supported the Ramones, and managed to shore up enough bread for a national tour. That lone recorded document of their brief career ended up being regarded as a hallmark of what was eventually termed “power pop.”

The Nerves’ EP is one of those items - like a bootleg videotape of a rare kung fu movie - that gets passed around between friends to get people in the know. “Oh, you like Guided By Voices? Well, wait’ll you hear the Nerves!”
It contains four numbers: “When You Find Out,” “Working Too Hard,” “Give Me Some Time” and “Hanging on the Telephone.” The last track probably looks familiar, and it should: While touring in Japan, Blondie heard the song in their limo and covered it as the opener on their now-canonical 1979 album Parallel Lines. Their version was released as a single and charted at No. 5 in the U.K. The song would be reinterpreted by a number of artists down the line - including Cat Power and Def Leppard - and, like most songs referencing phones, it landed in cell-phone commercials.

Anyone hearing the Nerves’ original recording of “Hanging on the Telephone” might be surprised. Blondie embellished the song with so many new-wave accoutrements (frilly organs, laser-guided guitar parts) that it was rendered into a blanched version of the original. The minimal instrumentation of the Nerves’ version, with the hoarse howl of its vocals and brisk pace, sounds more like the youthful vigor of early Beatles than the stylish sheen of new wave.
The remaining three tracks possess the same jaunty rhythms, deft instrumental interplay, bottled-up enthusiasm, sharp vocal harmonies and unflappable hooks that characterize the first Beatles singles.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after their tour, the Nerves disbanded. Case and Collins attempted to re-form the band with a new guitarist under the moniker the Breakaways, but that turned out to have an even briefer life span than its predecessor. Lee penned a couple more songs for other artists before vanishing from the music industry. Collins went on to form the Beat, while Case carried on with the Plimsouls before creating a rather successful solo career for himself (even garnering a Grammy in recent years). Although these later careers eventually bore more monetarily successful fruits, on purely musical grounds their accomplishments are dwarfed by the influence and ingenuity of the Nerves’ four-song EP. It will endure long after Chinese Democracy is finally buried. - TAL ROSENBERG / LA WEEKLY


The Nerves were a power-pop trio that released one four-song EP in 1976 and that’s it. After a self-financed national tour that led to the pinnacle of their minuscule success - opening up for The Ramones - the band called it quits in 1978 and moved on to individual projects. Calling The Nerves a blip in musical history would be an overstatement, yet for decades the band remained ensconced in the memories of pop and punk fans alike.
In the latter half of a decade that saw the dissolution of classic, psychedelic rock and the eventual mainstream acceptance of blood-and-guts punk, The Nerves seemed to be the band that connected it all. They bridged frenetic, youthful rebellion with melodic song structures; their music could be listened to in the living room or the garage. The thought of rereleasing the original EP 30 years later is therefore a no-brainer.

But Alive Natural Records didn’t stop there. One Way Ticket packages the remastered tracks with 16 other live takes and demos, making for a collection that finally recognizes the seminal musical accomplishments of one of the most unaccomplished great bands in history. - GABRIEL BAKER / SPLICETODAY

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One Way Ticket is the band’s only ‘official’ release since that time (although bootlegging of their material has been rife), compiling the four songs from that disc alongside their unreleased studio recordings, as well as a host of live tracks and demos. To comment that this CD has been long awaited by power pop aficionados goes without saying and it’s easy to see why - the three less famous tracks from The Nerves are just as worthy of note, taking their cue from the Big Star blueprint of ultra-focussed guitar pop and injecting it with the giddy pace of punk.

If Lee’s material eventually proved the most commercial (an early live version of the Paul Young hit ‘Come Back And Stay’ also features here), the originals provided by bassist Peter Case and drummer Paul Collins are equally arresting, particularly the former’s snarling title track and Collins’ timelessly sanguine ‘Working Too Hard’. Amongst the offcuts, the sound quality varies, but the songwriting remains transcendent throughout, suggesting the band could have had a bright future if the battle of egos had not ended it all so early.

Following their demise, Lee recorded one well-written but overly-slick solo LP before vanishing completely, whilst Case and Collins formed the rather good The Plimsouls. None of The Nerves’ later projects quite captured the visceral excitement present on One Way Ticket, but then neither did contemporaries The Knack or Off Broadway, or in fact the vast majority of other similarly-minded bands that followed in their wake. This record may document a very specific moment in musical history, but it is one that resonates just as fiercely as it did thirty odd years ago. - TOM EDWARDS / DROWNED IN SOUND


Before Blondie came along and tarted up “Hangin’ on the Telephone” with the airbrushed desire of Debbie Harry’s vocals and polished it with spotless production, the now-classic power-pop number was destined to be forgotten by history.

Recorded originally by a San Francisco power-pop trio named The Nerves, “Hangin’ on the Telephone” would become Blondie’s first U.K. Top Ten hit. And what of The Nerves?

After one EP of punchy, thrilling garage-rock bursts that boasted more hooks than a meat locker, The Nerves called it a day. Peter Case (bass/vocals) and Paul Collins (drums/vocals) formed two-thirds of The Nerves. Jack Lee, the guitarist/vocalist who penned “Hangin’ on the Telephone,” rounded out the group, which formed in the mid-’70s and was done by 1978. Blessed with three members who had an uncanny ability to write irresistibly catchy songs that bristled with punk energy, The Nerves were gone in a flash. But they did go out with a bang, appearing on the infamous “Magical Blistering Tour” with fellow punks The Ramones and Mink DeVille before bowing out. After the split, Lee had a brief solo career, Case moved onto soul-punk heroes The Plimsouls - who would record Case’s classic specimen of jangle-pop “A Million Miles Away” - and Collins wound up with The Beat.

Now, 30 years after their demise, comes The Nerves’ first proper LP, One Way Ticket. Put out by Alive Records in association with Bomp, the release packages the EP’s “Hangin’ on the Telephone,” “When You Find Out,” “Working Too Hard” and “Give Me Some Time” with a clutch of bruising live tracks and sketched-out demos. - PETER LINDBLAD / GOLDMINE


If Debbie Harry’s declaration in “Hanging on the Telephone” that “I can’t control myself” has always struck you as a little too coolly delivered to be credible, you owe it to yourself to hear the song’s writer Jack Lee go totally apoplectic in the original version by the Nerves. Yes, like Gloria Jones or Big Mama Thornton, the Nerves are destined to be “the band that did the original version of” someone else’s signature tune - but they’re also recalled as the almost-legendary ur-trio that launched the careers of LA mainstays Paul Collins and Peter Case (of the even nearer miss the Plimsouls). The bare-bones anthology One Way Ticket scrapes together the band’s entire released output (four songs), plus unreleased singles, offshoots, live tracks, and demos - all told, 20 two-minute tracks revealing where power-pop came from and where it was going. And it reveals, in Lee, an unjustly forgotten missing link in American music history.

As its title implies, “One Way Ticket” is a song in the shadow of Alex Chilton: “Gimme a one-way ticket” replaces “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,” and the reckless romantic energy pays tribute to the Big Star founder’s early pop hit. The song, a Case joint, was recorded as a single but Case and Collins split from Lee before its release; its flipside is “Paper Dolls” by Lee, and features the guitarist doing some very pre-Peter Buck jangling to go along with his raspy vocals.

All three of the Nerves wrote songs and sang; “Hanging on the Telephone” was one of Lee’s two contributions to their self-titled 1976 EP. His “Give Me Some Time”, along with “When You Find Out” (Case) and “Working Too Hard” (Collins) are all in the same very British Invasion-influenced vein: Corny and straightforward relationship-driven lyrics, harmonies, chiming guitars, and rubbery, bluesy bass. - MARK ASCH / CRAWDADDY

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