Method Actors This Is Still It (Acute Records) 2010. The folks at Acute Records have really outdone themselves this time. I think I say that every couple of years about Acute but this time I mean it. For realz. This Is Still It on Acute documents the first year of The Method Actors, a seminal drum and guitar duo from Athens, GA as they both laid the template down for all future drum/guitar combos and defined a sound that was completely unique. Driven by the twin propulsion engines of David Gamble on drums and Vic Varney on guitar and vocals, The Method Actors were a very compact and precise instrument designed solely for you, the listener, to have fun. It seems when listening to the band, that every single detail in every single song is in place just to propel the music forward. Varney’s guitar choogles through songs like Hi-Hi-Whoopie, E-Y-E or Do The Method like he is trying to fit every possible flourish he can come up with. He yelps and sputters vocals and Gamble just won’t let him stop….the beat keeps going and going. It’s pretty audacious stuff for its time and place. As Varney says in the liner notes, “It’s the Great Audacious Yawp of Youth”.
Speaking of the liner notes, the packaging on this (as with most Acute releases) is perfect. Lots of great photos of the duo who were as unique visibly as they were musically. I mean seriously, look at the photos of the band from their first 7inch, This Is It from 1980. David Gamble is the big guy. He must have just towered over those drums. In concert he probably looked like he was beating the shit out of them. Vic is the wiry, smaller guy. Have two band members ever visually represented how they sound better than this? I mean you look at them and you can already hear the music.
Accompanying the excellent photos is an intro by a guy named Peter Buck, who played in an even more obscure Athens-based band from the 80s (the name escapes me right now), and a great interview with Vic Varney from 2009. What did I learn from Vic? Well, I learned that Ricky Wilson of the B-52s is Vic’s all-time favourite guitar player. In an earlier review of Rhythms of You, a jittery 10inch they released in 1981, I mentioned how similar at times Vic’s guitar playing is to Wilson’s. Listen to She by the Methods and then listen to Lava by the B-52s. You’ll hear the resemblance. This is important because, Vic’s strumming doesn’t resemble anyone else. Ricky Wilson is the only touchstone I have with The Method Actors and it’s relatively slight.
This Is Still It documents the early Method Actors recordings from 1980-81. It contains their first 2 7inches as well as the aforementioned Rhythms of You EP in their entirety. These have been relatively obscure and difficult releases to find for some time. I mean, I never heard Do the Method before and now that I am listening to it, it’s probably one of my favourite songs by them. This Is Still It is not definitive by any means (large chunks of the Little Figures Double EP set from 1981 for instance, seem to be missing), but it is absolutely essential for anyone who likes to get crazy and have F-U-N.