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Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders: Reviews

Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand REVIEWS

Frantically brushing back imaginary strands of hair while bouncing around a sleazy nightclub like a water heater about to blow, pint-sized wildman vocalist Pat Todd was the crucial element for over 20 years in Los Angeles-via-Indianapolis punk-rockers the Lazy Cowgirls. The only difference now that he's changed the billing is the repertoire's been expanded to include songs about busted love relationships and an occasional tear-stained, acoustic ballad like "Wrong Turn." No fears, though; Todd's still one of the most electric frontmen in the business, the rare bird who understands there's really not that much difference between the lost-highway racket made by the Ramones, the Rolling Stones and Hank Williams. "Where the Sidewalk Ends" explodes from the speakers like the Clash's "Safe European Home," and "Billion Dollars Cash" finds Todd behind the wheel of a '59 Caddie, rolling down Route 66 and tossing $100 bills out the window like confetti.
Standout Tracks: “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “Billion Dollars Cash”

-JUD COST
Jud Cost - BLURT (Aug 1, 2008)
From Gearhead #17, out now:


Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders
Holdin’ Onto Troubles Hand
(Rankoutsider Records)

Our old pal Pat Todd, best known as the guy that fronted The Lazy Cowgirls for more years than many of us could ever hope to remember, is back with a tight band and more importantly, a slew of great new songs, so listen up! Material wise, this is pretty much what you might expect; a few balls-out tunes designed to make the audience break a sweat, some very listenable (and thought provoking) mid-tempo rockers, and a couple of country twinged “cryin-in-my-beer” ballads, but like the last few Cowgirls records, it somehow all works together in perfect harmony. Of course it takes a top-notch songwriter to pull that off, and although fame has pretty much eluded our hero, folks in the know have always held Pat and his music near to their hearts.


I remember a conversation I had with Pat a few years back where he very candidly revieled his musical aspirations to me. As you might imagine, it was a bit heartbreaking, but the main thing I came away with was at sense of awe at his sheer determination. Even as he approached and passed fifty years of age, it was clear that he would never give up on rock and roll, and you’d have to already be dead not to be inspired by that. I recall that at one point Pat said, “Why can’t I be on the Tonight Show?” and honestly I couldn’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t be. OK Mr. Leno, I’ve heard that you read Gearhead, so if you see this, give the brother a break. For once I’d love to see success go to the short, bald and thoroughly enjoyable guy’s address, Christ knows he deserves it, you literally can’t pay any more dues than he already has. This CD has 20 tracks by the way, well worth whatever they’re asking for it at rankoutsiderrecords.com. (Mike LaVella)
Pat Todd is not a man who believes in wasting time, and a year after he and his band the Rank Outsiders made their recording debut with the roaring double-disc set The Outskirts Of Your Heart (and with a full slate of live shows under their belt) Todd and company are back in the saddle with their second post-Lazy Cowgirls effort, Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand.

This album feels a shade less ambitious than The Outskirts Of Your Heart, since it's only one disc and mixes up the electric and acoustic material rather than presenting them in two separate chapters, but with twenty songs and clocking in at nearly eighty minutes, no one in their right mind would accuse Todd of slacking off, and for a songwriter this prolific it's remarkable that he's able to keep his game on point with such consistency.

From the opening firestorm of "Where The Sidewalk Ends," this album proves Pat Todd is still one of the most powerful and fiercely passionate performers in rock and roll, and though full blown Marshall-powered bombast sits side by side with campfire-quiet acoustic tunes (including "King Of Drugs," with Pat accompanying himself on banjo), it's all of a piece in its honest and sense of emotional commitment. The Outskirts Of Your Heart was said to have been largely inspired by a busted romance, and though there are some tales of love gone sour on Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand, most of the songs here deal more with the nuts and bolts of living in the modern world -- the lure of danger versus the pull of responsibility, the challenge of living life on your own terms, and figuring how to separate the many lies from the rare flashes of truth. Todd sings of this stuff with the conviction of a man whose seen too much not to share his street smarts with us, and while the Rank Outsiders have gone through a few personnel changes since their first album, this edition of the band sounds like twelve months of gigging has done them a world of good. Few people can rock so hard for so long while getting so little recognition as Pat Todd, and Holdin' On To Trouble's Hand shows he isn't close to being done -- God help us all when this font of inspiration finally hangs it up.
Pat Todd & The Rank Outsiders - Holdin’ Onto Trouble’s Hand

Perennial rock & roll trooper Pat Todd led the great Lazy Cowgirls through 20 years of punk rockin’, sons-of-guns (but not Guns, even if Todd hails from the same Midwest dystopia as Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin), straight-shootin’, no-bullshit Americana. The Cowgirls threw in the towel in the ‘aughts, but Todd didn’t. Last year’s stunningly consistent debut Rankoutsiders set The Outskirts of Your Heart picked up right where the ‘Girls left off with 28 tunes of heartbreak, lust, melancholy, anger, disgust and defiance that only passion could inspire and maturity could mold.
Another year, another generous batch of plainspoken, turbocharged gems. Holdin’ Onto Trouble’s Hand is a working man’s rebel manifesto, with dispatches from an America no political party acknowledges exists. And make no mistake, kids, this is American music with a capital C (for culture, and yes, we do have one) – notes, chords and rhythms derived from the blues, country & western, folk music and 50s rock & roll, made by disciples of Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Ike Turner and the Ramones. If the Rolling Stones had grown up in the country from which their musical loves came and had never touched supermodels or heroin, their music might still have the power the Rankoutsiders’ does now. Only Jason & the Scorchers have ever danced this rootspunk two-stomp with as much grace.

Todd’s songwriting continues its consistency and variety here, exploring the inner workings of the blue (collar, state, mood, heart) as well as anybody this side of Merle Haggard. “If you find some kind of love,” Todd advises on “One More Tank of Gas,” “Hold onto it/Give me one more tank of gas/And I’ll chase after it” - the Todd philosophy in a nutshell. The band, particularly guitarist Nick Alexander (who joins Cowgirls axmen Michael Leigh and DD Weekday in Todd’s pantheon of great six-string discoveries), confidently follows the leader down any path, taken or not.

You want revved-up C&W? Try “Sometimes Trouble Has a Name.” You like the tear dropping into your beer to be quieter? There’s the mandolin-driven “Tonight I Said Your Name.” Think the Beach Boys needed a punk shot in the ass? Give “Long Love Letter” (written by Todd but sung by Alexander – see, it really is a band) a shot. Prefer folk troubadourism? The calmly sneering “King of Drugs,” performed by Todd solo on a banjo, or the head-shaking-sadly accusation of “Playin’ in the Dirt” are your meat. Like a little spritz of power pop melodicism? You’ll take a trip “All Around the World.” Want a good, empathic wallow? The folk-rocking introspection of “There’s Nothin’ For Me Here” is da man. Looking for a raging roots rock epic? The eight-plus minutes of “The December 12th Blues” will scratch your itch.

Or would you rather just rock the fuck out, while keeping a little class in your air guitar-waving thrills? That’s most of this incendiary album, baby – “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “Dangerous Times – Dead Ahead,” “Secret Heart,” “Billion Dollars Cash,” “I Won’t Belong” (Todd’s mantra for 25+ years now), “Theda” and the title track will dropkick any Hot Topic sprat’s Avenged Sevenfold-loving ass back to school where he can learn about real rock & roll. With guts, brains and passion to spare, Todd and the Rankoutsiders accomplish it all while acting like adults, not like kids still young, dumb and full of…well, you know. If more albums like this are what Holdin’ Onto Trouble’s Hand gets us, I’m gonna keep my paw out constantly and shake on it every time.

"Pat Todd- rockin' not rank"

His chrome dome may not make him look like bar band hero but Pat Todd makes droolin', fired-up rock'n'roll. After leading the Lazy Cowgirls for two decades, he's set off on his own with 2006's Outskirts of Your Heart and now Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand. Not since the Replacements or the Pontiac Brothers (or maybe Jesse Malin) can I remember hearing such natural, fun-lovin', proudly scruffy rock music. 20 shots of it on one album (or what would have been considered a double album long ago) might seem like a lot but with Todd, it's just sweet excess and he's canny enough to trick things up with some Americana, just so you can catch your breath. CD Baby offers his latest album for $11 and it's sure as hell a worthy investment even if his own copy about Exile on Main St and the Ramones doesn't capture his sound.

For over 20 years, the Lazy Cowgirls were a reliable source for rip-roaring rock and roll. In 2003, after the release of the honorable "I'm Goin Out" and "Get Hurt Tonight", the band called it a day.

In their wake, the Cowgirls left behind a legendary history of live performances and releases. Over the next three years, front man/vocalist Pat Todd assembled a new band (with some old friends), played a few gigs and eagerly recorded new material.

Two years ago, Pat Todd and his Rank Outsiders delivered the incredible two-CD set "The Outskirts of Your Heart"; for a debut collection, the hard work paid off with 28 quality songs - no filler! Now, poised to strike with the new release "Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand", the band continues to further enhance an already sterling resume.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a perfect introduction to the band: Catchy vocals, infectious chorus, blistering Berry on amphetamine leads and a nice touch: a rolling bass pedal from Bob Deagle pushing the song along.

"All Around The World" demonstrates a Southern rock feel. Todd's gritty but full vocals add depth to the bluesy roar of guitarists Alexander and Bolger's guitarwork. "You're Alone Again" revisits this territory but instead adds a nice Stones touch. The band has got that awesome honky tonk sound!

Producer Earle Mankey distills a crystal clear sound for the band. All the instruments, vocals and the band's highly energetic performances are perfectly captured and mixed. No one needs to look any further than tracks such as "Dangerous Times - Dead Ahead" (listen to Todd's vocal phrasing at it's start 'nothing but a junkie'); "Long Love Letter" (sounding like a lost Heartbreakers track); and 'Secret Heart" to find proof in the production offered by Mankey.

Further evidence of the band's talent is offered in the acoustic moments on Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand. "Wrong Turn (Acoustic)" is pure bliss. Here, Mr. Todd and his band mates create the perfect mood to elaborate on the human condition of making choices - accepting consequences. Smoky leads, slide guitar and a fat bass offer little description for an emotional song by this band. Nice work. Another song "There's Nothin' For Me Here" introduces pedal steel to the band's sound. Devoutly country, the song is successful in execution and offers another view of the CD. The band's Midwestern roots are clear on these two tracks.

In the musical world of Pat Todd, he is determined to keep alive the musical dreams of his youth spent growing up in Indiana. Todd's time as a young man, one can infer from his classic songwriting approach, was spent listening to the guitar tag teams of Sylvain/Thunders and Taylor/Richards. The country sounds of Williams, Dylan, and Parsons must have offered sweet solace as well as much needed respite from all that teen angst. In closing, Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders are creating music that is honest, free of pretension and beautifully played
Arthur S. - I-94 Bar (May 18, 2008)
Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders - Holdin' Onto Trouble's Hand (Rankoutsider Records) terrific, ass-kicking, knee-slapping return of the Lazy Cowgirls vocalist with former members of Sparks and the Defendants, featuring the acoustic "Wrong Turn" and the banjo-driven "King of Drugs"
Pat Todd and the Rankoutsiders
Holdin’ Onto Trouble’s Hand
Rankoutsider Records


Pat Todd is a man that just won’t quit! Barely over a year ago, the ex-Lazy Cowgirls’ front man assembled a new rock and roll troupe and put out a 28-song double-CD (The Outskirts of Your Heart, Rankoutsider Records) of his trademark mix of rock and roll/punk/country.

In an interview at the time he claimed to have 30 more songs written and ready to go! Now here he comes again with a 20-song release (and threatens to have 60 or so more songs ready!), a full-time label home to a dozen or so bands and plans to tour.

Those who’ve witnessed the Lazy Cowgirls live can attest that musicians half Todd’s age don’t have half his explosive power. I have yet to see the Rankoutsiders live but from what I gather he’s certainly not changed. This album is more of what you’ve come to know and love; I like it better than Outskirts…but that’s not to put down that album.

My favorite song might be “When the World and You Collide”. Now that I don’t live far from Pat Todd’s hometown of Vincennes, IN I’m hoping to actually get to see the Rankoutsiders on tour.