Under Review: Lee Press-On & The Nails – Balls In Your Face

This one’s been a long time coming.  There’s a storied history behind the creation of this album (and even around the reformation of the band itself), but it all ends with a delightful effort from one of my favorite bands.  Last seen (on record, anyway) in 2002 with the incredible El Band En Fuego, Lee Press-On moved to Hollywood and disbanded The Nails.  For a number of years, Lee played keyboards with Dead Man’s Party, an Oingo Boingo tribute band, but the expectations for a Nails reunion lingered among his legions of fans and friends.  Over the past few years, the Nails have performed live a handful of times, though the concerts were more special occasions than formal returns to the stage.  Finally, a few weeks ago, Lee posted an unassuming tweet that simply stated, “I, uh… I think I’m done with the album.”  With that short declaration, I immediately jumped to purchase Balls In Your Face, Lee’s new collection of ballroom-inspired arrangements and originals.

The album begins with a pair of instrumentals, the frantic and iconic “Sabre Dance,” and recent concert favorite “The Congress Of Vienna Waltz.”  The first vocal cut is “I Love Louisa,” and it’s also the first showcase of Lee’s love for German oom-pah music.  Other notable inclusions are “Lydia The Tattooed Lady,” which restores a previously dropped verse about Hitler, and a rendition of “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie,” the only track to feature lead vocals from Leslie Presley.  There are a few moments on Balls In Your Face when Lee and the band regress to their original personas of hard-swinging rockers (or was it hard-rocking swingers?).  Takes on Motörhead’s “Ace Of Spades” and Nirvana’s “Lithium” are cute enough, but they seem really out of place alongside the more elegant material.  A reworking of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr. Crowley” as “The Mr. Crowley Tango” is much more appropriate and should serve as a model for future covers.  For those who are not familiar with the manic world of Lee Press-On, Balls In Your Face offers the best the man has to offer.  Its theme is not as strict as El Bando En Fuego’s (though that album didn’t always adhere to its retro-Spanish inflection), and it’s that eclecticism that makes Balls In Your Face another in a long line of triumphs from this most charismatic bandleader.

~ by E. on July 7, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: Lee Press-On & The Nails – Balls In Your Face”

  1. Lee is the man.
    And he does a pretty good Roger Rabbit impersonation.

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