Reviews roundup – Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers vs. Erja Lyytinen vs. Bill Kirchen & Austin De Lone vs. Asphalt Horsemen
CHILLI WILLI & THE RED HOT PEPPERS
The Last Record Co
Amazingly enough I’m too young to remember pub rock. That all took place half a decade before I started rocking out although I do recall some older blokes at a Dr Feelgood gig talking wistfully about it.
By the time people like Ace started reissuing pub rock albums I was too caught up in the world of metal to care but time has mellowed me a good 7 or 8% so I’m a bit more flexible these days. Although to be honest most pub rock bands from the early seventies sound a bit shite.
However, for the most part, I’m willing to exempt Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers from that. This retrospective is made up of both their albums – ‘Kings of the Robot Rhythm’ and ‘Bongos Over Balham’ – along with some demo sessions, live tracks and one previously unreleased number.
The meat in the sandwich is actually rather tasty with the early attempts at country rock, something unheard of in the UK in 1972. I was lucky, my first country rock purchase was Poco, but at the time this was something new. Granted, the production isn’t great and some of the performances struggle a bit, but there are some really good songs here which are well worth a visit.
The main duo of Martin Stone and Philip Lithman are augmented by the likes of Nick Lowe, Billy Rankin and Bob Andrews (Brinsley Schwarz) on the debut album as they weren’t a full blown band by that point before they expanded for the second release. The package is beautifully presented with a lengthy booklet and Barney Bubbles artwork. It’s the last word in Chilli Willi and highly recommended.
It’s a couple of years since I raved over ‘Live In London’ and it’s preceding ‘The Sky Is Crying’ so I was delighted to have a new album of slide guitar drenched blues to listen to.
It’s back to the original material now after her Elmore James diversion and it’s an extremely strong release. There is no doubting her musical mastery (mistressy?) but sometimes the songs have fallen a wee bit short. But that has been largely addressed here.
There are plenty of raunchy blues licks to hold onto straight from the opening title track. If you want to hear the best guitar on the album then take yourself off to “Black Ocean” with its amazing solo or if a slower blues is your thing then “Slowly Burning” with its blues/soul hybrid feel will tickle your fancy.
Everywhere else there are songs and melodies to remember and this is certainly up there with her best. Buy this then take yourself off to see her live on a 5 date UK stopover in April.
BILL KIRCHEN & AUSTIN DE LONE
The Last Music Co
Messrs Kirchen and De Lone have recorded together in the past, going as far back as the seventies but this is their duo debut.
Strange to relate after the Chilli Willi above, Austin De Lone was a co-founder of Eggs Over Easy, the band generally agreed to have started pub rock. Meanwhile Bill Kirchen was a member of Western Swing band, Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen. So plenty of pedigree there.
Continuing the theme, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers bassist Paul Riley is one of the guest musicians here as the duo carry on from where they started. As the title suggests this is a country album, something that the opening “Hounds of Bakersfield” confirms.
There are plenty of nods to their youth as they rattle through a set of originals and covers all of which sparkle. The best for me were “Let’s Rock”, the Butch Hancock song “Oxblood” that seems Hancock on backing vocals and the big ballad “Losing Hand”, a fifties hit for Ray Charles.
It’s an album deserving of a wide audience so do yourself a favour.
Goin’ down to the swamp, goin’ watch me a hound dog catch a ‘coon. Now I don’t know whether they have swamps of raccoons in Hungary but it turns out that they do have Southern rock.
Asphalt Horsemen is the band responsible. They’ve been around since 2010 and were originally inspired by the likes of Black Stone Cherry and Zakk Wyldes Pride & Glory. So it’s no surprise that they lean on the rock side of things. This is the follow up to their 2014 debut which seemed to go down well, and this one should do the same.
They know how to rock hard, they’ve got just enough twang and they certainly know how to churn out a riff. When that combines with the best of the songs which include “”Down In The Dirt”, “Thank You” and the title track then it’s a real treat. One for the Molly Hatchet fans out there.