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Ventura County Weekend : MUSIC : Plimsouls Stage an Extended Encore : The antsy but precise musicians who seized the L.A. club scene in the early ‘80s are back--a dozen years older and deeper into the groove.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

History--a sure measure of time, place, and wardrobe--can hound a band like the Plimsouls. They seized the L.A. club scene in the aftermath of punk, deftly blending their angst with clever pop hooks. Listen to their two early ‘80s albums--their self-titled debut (re-released with the “Zero Hour” EP as “The Plimsouls . . . Plus” in 1992) and 1983’s “Everywhere at Once"--and visions of skinny-tied New Waveology dance through your head.

This is music made by antsy but precise musicians in too-tight jackets, with enough jangle-and-spank to suggest a musically correct soup of influences--early Stones, Byrds and pre-psychedelic Beatles. Most importantly, they stirred it all up into a sound that was all Plimsouls.

Here they come again, a dozen years older and deeper into the groove. Are the Plimsouls, circa 1995, riding the comeback train, or are they as relevant as ever? Find out when they stop in at the Ventura Theatre tonight, in the midst of a full-scale return to action.

Because rock and roll is often about cycles of fashion, time smiles on bands like the Plimsouls, who bank on the strength of tunes like “A Million Miles Away"--the closest thing that the band had to a hit--and “Now.” But they are also working up new material--a song, after all, derives its power as much from ensuring longevity as anything else.

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After the breakup of the band in 1985, lead singer Peter Case went on to his own solid--if commercially modest--solo career, which has spanned a handful of fine albums. Case’s own story is the one about the antsy, energetic young rock and roller who once had no time for ballads, but eventually found Christianity and slid into the gentler world of folk.

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Although he’s often gone unplugged in the last decade, Case’s songwriting isn’t short of turbulence and tension. He’s your basic singer-songwriter on the rugged trail toward redemption.

Case’s new solo album, “Torn Again"--his second for Vanguard, the vintage folk label--is a powerful collection, rich with tale-spinning, poetry and, as usual, musical hooks that nestle into your brain and refuse to leave.

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Undoubtedly, this is Case’s finest hour, album-wise, since his bold 1989 album, cannily and, yes, truthfully titled “The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar.”

It probably did not get the attention it deserved. But that’s nothing new. It’s also the way of the Plimsouls, an underdog band that made only a small dent in the charts but a big impression in the legacy of Southern California music. The time is nigh for an extended encore.

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DETAILS

* CONCERT: The Plimsouls play tonight at the Ventura Theatre, 26 S. Chestnut St. in Ventura, at 8. The Tearaways and Mummer will open.

* CALL: 648-1888.


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