Album Review: Lloyds – Attitude Check

San Francisco of the late 1970s and early- to mid-’80s was home to a thriving new music scene. In those days before the internet, local scenes existed somewhat independently of one another; if you read Trouser Press or New York Rocker, you might know a thing or two about what was going on musically elsewhere in the country (and beyond), but for the most part, what happened in [fill in the blank] stayed in [fill in the blank], even if you didn’t want it to.

That reality helps explain why Lloyds will be all but unknown to listeners who weren’t in the Bay Area during that period. They built a following, and even opened for Journey (as a photo in the package of this new set proves). The band’s sound was very much a mainstream new wave kind of character; the songs sound like they wold have fit neatly on any of Rhino’s retrospective DIY compilations.

“And That’s Why (I Don’t Like You)” has that propulsive, gleaming style that served so many early MTV-era acts so well. Peppy handclaps, stuttering guitar and an appealing lead vocal from the mononymous Lulu all should have added up to some kind of commercial breakthrough. The band even self-produced the single, which demonstrates that they really knew what they were doing.

They had the material, too: as the new Liberation Hall compilation Attitude Check shows, Lloyds wrote their own material, and it’s solid of-its-time stuff. But during the band’s time together (1979-84), they seem to have only released one EP, a four-song 12” from 1984. Three of the titles on that record are included on this new set, but it’s not clear if they’re the same recordings. With a musical personality not miles away from Scandal, Lloyds should have caught on a bigger way.

In 2022, a vinyl album appeared. Let’s Go Lloyds! featured 13 studio tracks that showcased the group’s versatility and spirit. The songs are varied, with a tough, sassy feel buoyed by tight arrangements and ace production. Other than the occasional pig-squeal guitar lick on tunes like “Up on the Wire,” the sound is pretty timeless.

The entirety of that vinyl-only release is reprised on this new set, appended here by seven live tracks. Those onstage recordings are part of the Terry Hammer archive; Hammer expertly captured the sound and character of San Francisco’s new wave scene, mixing and broadcasting in real time on local radio. And he save the paes, providing an important service for Bay Area (and beyond) music lovers.

Hammer’s recordings strip away whatever studio polish the Bay Area might’ve had, documenting what they really sounded like. And in the case of Lloyds, their onstage sound was every bit the equal of those rocking studio tapes. Anyone who appreciates the no-filigree end of that era’s new wave scene will want to hear the studio cuts, and these live recordings help complete the picture.