Dan Sartain released the thirteen track album Too Tough To Live in January of 2012, despite being a full length album it clocks in at just over 18 and a half minutes, each song lasting about a minute and a half. Normally known for his Rockabilly, Blues and Garage based offerings, Too Tough To Live offers us something different from Sartain, an album of short, fast and catchy 70s Punk influenced gems.
Recorded in San Francisco, California at Lucky Cat Studios, the album starts off with the song “Nam Vet” which combines Catchy Ramones styled riffs with Sartain’s own blues licks for a track that is part Punk, Part Blues and before you get a change to make up your mind the track ends, something that you will find on this album, brevity of the catchiest variety. “Now Now Now” follows with Jane Wieldlin of The Go Go’s on dual vocals and guitar, “Swap Meet” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Ramones first self titled album, the album also contains Sartain’s own Punk anthem, a track entitled “Fuck Friday”. The song clearly emphasizes an attack on the generic suburban weekend, the song is offensive, catchy and short, complete with distorted Surf styled guitar solo. The album ends with the song “In Death” a song that has more of a groove, reminiscent of songs we’ve come to know from Dan Sartain, featuring predominate handclaps and slow, but Punk like guitar chords in the chorus. Other stand out tracks on this album include “I’m Aware”, “I Wanna Join The Army” and “I Can’t Go Home Now”. Lyrically, the album addresses the monotony of day to day life, the army, Vietnam, getting insurance and more.
While some critics have been quick to jump on this album as another so called “Punk” album that sounds like a Ramones album, it is incorrect to write it off so easily. While on the album Sartain is definitely wearing his Ramones influences on his sleeve the albums title is even a play on Ramones Too Tough To Die album, there is also an underlying Hot Rod Rock style that filters in and out as the album progresses whether it is musically or in the lyrics. Too Tough To Live is a short energetic adrenaline rush from start to finish, Sartain has always a Punk element in his music and on Too Tough To Live he brings it to the forefront of the music, while his Rockabilly and Blues elements sit in the background, popping up briefly to let us know that they are still there. From looking at the artwork (done by Kelly Keith), which displays a retro 50s Sci-fi look with its Cadillac and flying saucers we know that this album is a little bit different. It may not be what we would have expected from Sartain next, but like his other albums, Too Tough To Live is a great Rock and Roll album.
The Play List:
1. The Polymorphines – Anna Lee
2. Ghost Bikini – Summerheat
3. Actual Water - Pale Ways
4. Cousins – Jules
5. Dik Van Dykes – Lazlo
6. Los Straitjackets – Crime Scene
7. Cartoons – Radio Days
8. Dave Dubois – Death of Trotsky
9. Johnny West – A Puppet playing Possum
10. James OL & The Villains – City of Cards
11. The Doors – Queen of the Highway
12. Long Weekends - At Long Last
13. Wet Hair – Visit The Mirror
14. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
15. Nickel Eye – Another Sunny Afternoon
16. Shonen Knife – Welcome To The Rock Club
17. Dan Sartain – I’m Aware
18. Dan Sartain – I Can’t Go Home Now
19. The Love Me Nots – Make Up Your Mind
20. The Lurkers – Ain’t Got A clue
21. The Damned – See Her Tonight
22. The Rezillos - (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
22. Buzzcocks – Sixteen
23. Modern Lovers – I’m Straight
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