Mom and Dad, this one's for you

Better Than Before (Rainbow Quartz)
The Singles

By Kevin Gibson

Mom, Dad, if you're reading this, you have to buy this album. Write it down: Better Than Before, by the Singles. I say this because I want to give back to you what you gave to me as a child.

When I was growing up, I heard Buddy Holly, Elvis and the Beatles blasting out of your Sears and Roebuck speakers. I didn't fully understand it at the time, but it was a priceless gift you gave me. My musical tastes went off in numerous different directions after that, but I always came back to what got me there in the first place: melody. And hooks. And artistic precision.

This band the Singles are a bunch of youngsters from Detroit, which has asserted itself as the capital of garage rock in the early 21st century. But these kids are playing the same kind of stuff their parents no doubt gave them - fun, basic rock songs using the same chords you grew up with.

Remember that "Hold Your Hand" song with all the claps? That's the kind of stuff the Singles play. "I'll Be Good to You," had it been released on Decca Records in 1963, would have been huge. HUGE. You would have bought it and passed it on to me. And "Until You Came Along" - let's just say when you hear it, you'll wonder if that Buddy Holly guy hasn't been reincarnated.

What's great for me is that some of these tunes break through the formula. The single (by the Singles), "He Can Go, You Can't Stay," is the perfect homage to both old and new - it's early '60s-style pop with a modernistic punk energy and edge. So it's not a throwaway throwback - not at all.

Maybe you won't pick up this disc. Parents don't always listen. That's why they made rock 'n' roll music in the first place. At the very least, though, I bet you could drive your folks nuts with this album. That in itself is worth the 15 bucks. Right?