As much as I love intricate, sweeping and clever music, sometimes you can’t beat a low slung guitar, a basic proto-punk-blues beat and some stripped back lyrics. And it doesn’t get more stripped backed than Leathers. Four songs, two guys and pretty much one groove. All four songs found on this eponymous ep seem variations on the same wonderfully raw two chord rhythm and it’s brilliantly refreshing. There is more to it than that obviously but Joe Satriani this most definitely is not and for that I thank them.
On top of this straight and simple rhythmic approach they bolt on a motornik hum, a virtually cymbal deficient primal beat, a few riffs designed to resurrect the ghosts of everyone from Bo Diddley to Jeffery Lee Pierce and very little else. Got Me Working is a heavily edited MC5, Only One Thing is sleazy garage R&B, and Snatch It Back and Move seem almost to be anagrams of each other.
It’s as if someone said you can have the rock but not the roll, the rhythm but not the blues, or vice verse and that isn’t a criticism as it reminds us that sometimes you need very little to fashion a cool set of songs. Less is certainly more but picking the right less is the art of it. In a world where studio excess and excessive add ons seems to be the order of the day, it’s great to come across a band who merely sketch out a blueprint for rock and/or roll and leave it at that.
There was a famous cartoon in the fanzine Sniffin’ Glue back in the early days of punk whose text declared “this is a chord, this is another, this is a third…now form a band,” Leathers are what happens when you take such an edict literally.