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The Libertines: The Best Of: A Time For Heroes

The Libertines: The Best Of: A Time For Heroes

Label:Rough Trade
Release Date:2007

By Neil Ferguson | Posted 12/19/2007

In these download days-where everyone's a DJ-the entire concept of "Best of" compilations is a trifle redundant. What's more, record companies usually wheel out these kind of cash-ins as attempts to squeeze more cash from the substantial back catalogs of mega unit-shifting stadium outfits. Not a band like the late, lamented (in the U.K. at least) Libertines, whose body of work was slight to say the least, and whose subsequent reputation has been entirely overshadowed by the continuing exploits of founding member and walking tabloid headline Pete Doherty. ?

Dubious business motives aside, however, A Time for Heroes serves as a decent primer for those who were immune to the Libertines' lairy charms first time 'round, and as a reminder of a band of ragged chancers who came along at the right time and in the right place. Namely, a turn of the century Britain dominated by high-gloss boy bands, an American indie onslaught headed by the Strokes, and the anemic anthems of Coldplay and their execrable ilk. The Libertines had the looks, they had the moves, and, fortunately, they had the tunes to back their bluster and bravado up.?

Coming on like a bunch of speed-addled Dickensian urchins, they had the knack of taking the splenetic, nervy energy of the early Jam and Buzzcocks mixed with the resolutely English lyricism of the Kinks and the Smiths and spewing it out in one glorious racket. "Don't Look Back Into the Sun," "What a Waster," and especially "I Get Along" are all utterly anthemic and endearingly ramshackle mini-explosions. These are songs that tear along at breakneck speed, frequently threatening to implode but always managing to (barely) keep it together, emerging cocksure and triumphant. Packed with wit, pathos, and passion, Heroes is packed with gloriously dissolute stuff, but it's ultimately a poignant reminder of unfulfilled potential, broken promises, and a band that really could have been a contender.

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