Reviews roundup – Molly Hatchet ~ Sorrowhearts ~ Lou DiBello ~ Janiva Magness ~ Inadream ~ IWKC
Steamhammer / SPV
I suppose it’s been a few years since the last Molly Hatchet live album. Although it’s been even longer since they released a studio record. And there’s no point humming and hawing about the fact that there are no original members left in the band. They’re not the only heritage act in that position. This also acts as a tribute to singer Phil McCormack who died after this was recorded. However I will have a wee bitch about the fact that their website still features Dave Hlubek, an original member who had returned to the band. He died over 2 years ago. For shame. Actually they don’t seem to like telling you who is actually in the band anymore but we’ll assume it’s Bobby Ingram, John Galvin, Shawn Beamer and Tim Lindsey.
So do we need this. Not really. Don’t get me wrong. There is no such thing as too many versions of songs from the first four Molly Hatchet albums. But they haven’t really added to that in the intervening 35+ years. And as for the albums the Bobby Ingram (c) led MH have made. Well you wouldn’t need all the fingers on one hand to count the great songs they’ve released. ‘Son of the South’, ‘Mississippi Moon Dog’, ‘Devil’s Canyon’. Um, I’m struggling now. And this 2CD / 3LP is full of latter day songs.
Which is fair enough. There’s 10 oldies (if you count the Danny Joe Brown solo ‘Edge of Sundown’ which MH adopted back in the day) and 8 from the Ingram version. Trust me, no-one needs to hear seven minute plus versions of ‘The Journey’ or ‘I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die’. To its credit, songs that didn’t come to life in the studio do sound better here. ‘Why Won’t You Take Me Home’ sounds ten times better. There’s definitely not enough guitar, though. But when you’re no longer a three lead guitar band what do you expect.
Thing is, when it’s good it’s really good. I’m almost tempted to buy the vinyl version just so I can play records 1 and 3 which would make a great double album. But, hell yeah, it may not be the real thing but I’m still kinda glad that these songs are still getting pumped out live in army bases and Germany. After all, Molly Hatchet were the soundtrack to my early teens after I first heard ‘Boogie No More’ (not included) on the Sounds Heavy Metal Album.
(Hell yeah) son of the south, I walk it tall and wear it proud
(Hell yeah) son of the south, let me hear you say it loud
(Hell yeah) son of the south, sweet potato pie and hush my mouth
(Hell yeah) son of the south, I like my women southern style, hell yeah
Where The Good Men Go
Well this is an odd one. A Finnish folk rock band who sing in English and sound, well, English. Apart from when they sound Scottish! Here’s the opening lines to ‘All Our Hearts Together’. “The miles from Gorbals to Drunkards Bay, and from Birdrock doon the brae”. Later on in the same song they tell us about when they went to Kingussie for a shinty ball. It’s cultural appropriation damn it!
But they’re actually very good at it. Although it’s mainly acoustic based there is enough (technical term) oomph to keep your attention throughout. There’s plenty of fiddling, some bagpipes and an accordion. Sami Ala-Lahti is the songwriter and singer and even if he doesn’t have the most distinctive voice he is a dab hand with a melody. And indeed a mandolin. The thing about folk music is that a lot of the themes are universal (apart from when they’re in the Gorbals) so songs like ‘Falling From The Stars’ and ‘The Last Of The Halcyon Days’ can be empathised with anywhere.
The large assortment of musicians involved do a sterling job of bringing the music to life and there is nothing here a Runrig fan in need of a new fix wouldn’t take to. I’d still gie the Gorbals a miss mind!
American Hard Rock
Well it’s American and it’s hard rock so no-one is going to be suing under the Trades Descriptions Act.
Turns out Mr DiBello has been a professional musician for over 30 years playing in innumerable bands in the Illinois / Indiana area, opening for many a major act such as .38 Special, Slaughter, LA Guns, Molly Hatchet, Foghat, Quiet Riot, Survivor, Black Crowes, Blue Oyster Cult and more. He’s also a guitar teacher with a penchant for shredding and one listen to the opening ‘Driving Force’ will have you sitting slack jawed. He’s really, really good. His first couple of solo records were instrumental but this one, like it’s predecessor, sees things split between instrumental numbers and songs with his lead vocals.
There is no doubt that the music here is phenomenal. The playing is ridiculous and there are some really good songs on offer. For sure, he’s not a great singer, something highlighted by a guesting Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz on one song (which also features Mike LePond from Symphony X). It doesn’t matter so much when the music is raging but on a slower song like ‘Walk Through The Fire’ or ‘Love Is Blind’ you do notice it. But then the guitar gets ramped up again and off you go.
The production is Premier League level and you’d never guess it was an indie release as he careers to a close with a cover of Edgar Winters ‘Frankenstein’. Guitar fans will really enjoy this.
Sings John Fogerty: Change In The Weather
Blue Elan Records
Well you can’t really go wrong here. Because, as the keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed, this is Janiva Magness singing the songs of John Fogerty. So you’ve probably not got this far as you’ll have nipped oot to buy a copy.
So yes, seven-time Blues Music Award winning singer has recorded a dozen John Fogerty songs and, yes, it is very good.
She hasn’t went down the greatest hits route either. For sure, there are plenty of those here. ‘Lodi’, ‘Bad Moon Rising’, ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, ‘Fortunate Son’ are all present and correct. But the fact that the record kicks off with a song from John Fogerty’s second solo album, “Eye Of The Zombie” shows that she is willing to go deep. It’s a cracker as well. As is the first of the duets which sees her team up with Sam Morrow on ‘Lodi’. The other duet sees Taj Mahal joining in on ‘Don’t You Wish It Was True’ and it’s one of the real standouts here as it’s turned into a pure blues tune.
Because the arrangements are fresh and new. It’s not just a retread of what went before. Although Fogerty was no stranger to the blues, his swamp rock songs always seemed to be more country like in origin but when Ms Magness and her excellent studio band set about it, everything turns blue. There’s not a duff track here so you can drop your virtual needle anywhere and be guaranteed pure gold. My favourites, duets aside, would have to be ‘Deja Vu (All Over Again’ and the closing studio jam of ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ with Poco man Rusty Young on dobro. Essential listening.
No Songs For Lovers
Eighties indie from Bochum, Germany, anyone? Anyone?
Because that’s what you’re getting here. It’s the sort of jangly rough edged indie that was a Thing around about 1982. Somewhere inbetween the poppier style of say, Orange Juice and The Wedding Present and the punkier styles of latter day Clash.
Yeah, so not for me! But they are good at what they do and certainly never forget to chuck a melody into the middle of things. They can do the uptempo, a wee bit shouty thing. That would be ‘Love Me Or Love Me’, probably the punkiest song on offer. But it’s when they get melancholy that they do their best work. ‘Friends’ is just a really good song and would have got them near the front cover of the NME back in the day.
Even the production is a bit retro but that suits the music. I’m not sure what the young folk will make of this but as the band don’t seem to be in the first flush of youth they should jump in their charabanc and get themselves booked at Rebellion. They will go down a treat there.
Dunno who Chita is but IWKC really don’t like him / her. That’s because IWKC stands for I Will Kill Chita. Nasty.
Follow the latitude East from where I’m sitting and you’ll pass through Copenhagen and Lithuania before ending up in Moscow. See, I’m waving oot the front room windae.
Is that why I’ve grown so fond of Russian (mainly) instrumental prog of late? Probably not but it’s nice to think there’s a Northern subconscious at play which remains different after thousands of years of Greco/Roman perspectives on the world.
So, IWKC. They’re really good. They’re on that cusp between prog and post-rock which is basically a fancy way of saying we’re too young to be prog so please call us post-rock instead. Yes, there is a lot of drone in the grooves and a fair bit of feedback but if you like the Monster Magnet remix albums and think this isn’t for you, then you’d be wrong.
With inventive arrangements and unusual samples there is a wealth of creativity here with tunes like ‘Kastenkampf’ and ‘Emerald River’ dripping with ideas. The worldless vocals add an extra dimension to what would have been a great record and push it towards borderline great.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton