In 1979, various punk and new wave bands were engaging in 1960s worship -- everyone from the Ramones to Blondie to the B-52s was putting their own spin on 1960s music, whether it was British Invasion rock, surf rock or the girl-group sound. But while those artists were combining something old with something new, the Inmates were retro all the way. New wavers and punks might have appreciated the rawness of First Offense, the Inmates' debut album of 1979, but this LP is neither punk nor new wave. Usually sounding like it could have been recorded around 1964-66 instead of in 1979, First Offense is an unapologetic throwback to the British Invasion rock of the early Rolling Stones (we're talking Brian Jones-era Stones!), the Kinks and the Who. The British band doesn't get into psychedelic rock at all, and its preference is for the more bluesy and R&B-influenced recordings that those rockers made in the 1960s. From covers of the Standells' "Dirty Water" and the Pretty Things' "Midnight to Six Man" to remakes of Arthur Conley's "Love Got Me" and Don Covay's "Three Time Loser," First Offense is about as derivative as it gets. But it's also rockin' and highly infectious -- even when you're thinking about how ultra-derivative the music is, you'll find yourself patting your foot and singing along. First Offense is retro in the good sense.
Of course eventually it turned out that 'we have so much variety we have none' to quote myself.