Friday, October 7, 2011

True Believers - True Believers - 1986

Legend has it that the True Believers' pre-production process with producer Jim Dickinson before they began sessions for their first album consisted entirely of a conversation in the car as the band picked him up from the airport and drove to Austin's Arlyn Studios. While Dickinson has a splendid track record producing maverick rock bands, for this project money and time were in short supply, and the True Believers album suffers a bit accordingly. The sound is thin and lacks the punch that the group's three-guitar lineup demanded, and the gated snare sound on Kevin Foley's drum kit is such a mid-'80s cliché that it sounds almost comical more than a decade down the line. But if True Believers captured a great band under less-than-ideal circumstances, it leaves little doubt that this really was a great band; Alejandro Escovedo, Javier Escovedo, and Jon Dee Graham all sing, write, and play guitar well enough to lead fine bands on their own, and together they were a guitar army in the truest sense of the phrase, thinking and performing as one and leaving behind some inspired music as a result. (Bassist Denny Degorio also helped write a number of the album's best songs, and drummer Kevin Foley holds down the backbeat with smarts and precision.) True Believers was the only album this group would release during their lifetime, and while it doesn't get the full impact of their live show on tape, it gets just enough of it down to prove that this band's reputation as one of America's greatest roots rock bands wasn't just talk. -AMG