The Throbs – The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds (1991)

Throbs_LanguageThieves3.5 out of 5 Stars!

I still vaguely recall all the silly and preposterous hoopla surrounding The Throbs when the New York band first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s. The PR department at Geffen Records worked endlessly to make people believe how this band was destined for the big time, how The Throbs were the next Guns N’ Roses and would thoroughly and masterfully take over all of planet Earth with a debut album loaded with such infectious and rapturous music that even die-hard fans of Jazz, Soul, Rap, Country and even Classical, Opera, and every other genre imaginable would instantly switch allegiance to The Throbs, and only The Throbs, for the rest of eternity. Yes, the over-the-top hype pushed the notion that it would soon become the world of The Throbs, like it or not, with people of all races, all religions, all ages, and even America’s Republicans and Democrats, all banding together to honor the magnificence of this act, and (ultimately) praise Geffen Records for discovering such a life-altering musical treasure.

Well, needless to say, this grand and glorious destiny did not occur, not even close, even despite the fact the album was co-produced by the heavy-hitting team of Bob Ezrin and Richard “Dick” Wagner, or that it even included a guest appearance by Little Richard himself. I can’t help but wonder whether Geffen Records fired the head of its PR department for not making “instant worldwide fame” happen, or perhaps canned someone in the art department for approving an almost unreadable band logo to grace the way-too-cluttered album cover, or maybe even dumped someone higher up for not foreseeing the sudden advent of a monster genre called Grunge. Well, whatever the various fates of those record company “suits,” the band itself—fronted by a dude with the way-too-cutesy name of Ronnie Sweetheart—did seem to try its level best to leave a mark on the industry.

The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds, the group’s sole album, contained some fun music, mostly foot-tappin’ and sleazy rock ‘n’ roll loaded with hooks that (somewhat) had a Guns N’ Roses style and swagger. But to me, the rocking tracks such as “Sweet Addition,” “Come Down Sister,” “Rip It Up,” “It’s Not the End of the World,” “Underground,” and the Little Richard-enhanced “Ecstasy” sounded more like The Cult (Sonic Temple-era) with a touch of Hanoi Rocks, The Quireboys, and The Dogs D’Amour, whereas the two ballads included in this collection—”Honey Child” and “Dreamin'”—seemed to take on a similar vibe to The Rolling Stones, L.A. Guns, The Black Crowes, and other straightforward groups unafraid to include acoustic guitar into the mix.

So, even though The Throbs offered nothing at all innovative when it came to its music or its “hairsprayed and eyelinered” image, The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds did deliver some fairly decent tracks and a whole lot of attitude, thanks mostly to Sweetheart’s snarling lead vocals. But then again, so did countless other albums of the era by countless other equally talented bands. Unfortunately, after that “instant worldwide fame” thing didn’t happen for The Throbs, Geffen (no shock) dropped the group within the better part of a year and certainly went on to hype the “next big thing” that likely never occurred. Oh, well, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right?

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