Blackfoot: Southern Native (Loud & Proud)
The original Blackfoot line-up which operated in the late 1970s and early 1980s hold a special place for me. One of the few bands from that era whose music I continue to play on a regular basis, the line-up of Rickey Medlocke, Greg T Walker, Charlie Hagrett and Jakson Spires produced some of the greatest Southern Rock of all time. Highway Song Live remains in my top five all-time live albums whilst Marauder, Strikes and Tomcattin’ contain absolutely essential rock tracks. The band released a series of radio friendly and to be blunt not very good releases after 1982 as the line-up fragmented and reshaped numerous times. To be honest, Blackfoot were always a band that only meant something with those four members in place.
Medlocke has been lead guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd for many years now but retains rights to the Blackfoot name and Southern Native, partly written and produced by him is the first release under the Blackfoot name for 20 years. A completely new line-up, which has been gigging under the banner since 2012 comprises guitarist and vocalists Tim Rossi and Rick Krasowski, bassist Brian Carpenter and drummer Matt Anastasi. The result? A polished album that disappointingly to these ears could have been delivered by anyone of a thousand other “Southern” sounding outfits. It’s a perfectly listenable release, but fails to deliver that cutting edge, pace or energy which put the original line-up so far apart. This is radio friendly Planet Rock music which stays safe and follows a standard blueprint. Call Of A Hero is ponderous, Everyman swerves between poignant and nauseating whilst the title track is just bland (and the video is dire). Unfortunately, there isn’t a track on this release that could hold a flame to the likes of Gimme Gimme Gimme, Every Man Should Know or Diary Of A Working Man. When the band do get going, on the likes of Whiskey Train and Love This Town then you finally get a touch of the old school but it’s too infrequent. After 20 years, I’d suggest that the ghost of Blackfoot should finally be laid to rest. It’s time to respect the history. 6/10
The Dead Daisies: Make Some Noise (Spitfire Music)
If you want competent safe cock rock which has been done a million times before and you don’t mind brainless, misogynistic lyrics then the third release from the much promoted “supergroup” of hired rock session musicians The Dead Daisies is going to be right up your street. If on the other hand you want some originality in your music then don’t bother even opening the sleeve.
Opener Long Way To Go is an Aerosmith wannabe, the title track is just dire Kiss-lite drivel and the inclusion of two covers, CCR’s Fortunate Son and The Who’s Join Together adds nothing. Okay, the musicianship is reasonable, but you’d expect it from this outfit. Last Time I Saw The Sun has the sleaze of Tyler and Co without the swagger and All The Same is just horrible. Why there is all the fuss about this outfit I have no idea and having seen them live at Steelhouse I am content to remain in the minority who think that The Dead Daisies should remain deceased. 4/10
MaidaVale: Tales Of The Wicked West (The Sign Records)
Heavy blues psychedelia? Well, it’s not unusual these days to be fair with the fantastic Blues Pills, Graveyard, Kadavar and The Vintage Caravan all well-established names of the genre. MaidaVale are another outfit to add to that list with their debut Tales Of The Wicked West an astonishingly mature release. Disappointingly not produced at Maida Vale Studios, the band combine a 1970s feel with a 1990s vibe, the mix of fuzzy guitar, despairing vocals and dirty grunge also adding elements of a maelstrom of influences, Blind Melon and Mother Love Bone to name but two. The band line-up is Linn Johannesson, Sofia Strom, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson and they formed in Farosund, Sweden in 2012. The album contains nine tracks, all of them high quality. Meandering melancholic closing track Heaven And Earth, which features some stunningly haunting guitar work and comes in at just under 11 minutes long is the choicest cut on an album which has one foot in the past and the other firmly planted in today. 8/10