Monday, July 26, 2010

Darrell Bath - Love and Hurt

Darrell Bath
Love and Hurt
Angel Air

Guitarist Darrell Bath has quite a resumé. He’s slung his axe in the service of the UK Subs, Ian Hunter, Nikki Sudden, Dave Kusworth, the Dogs D’amour, Medicine Head and other names not well known to us Yanks. He also co-led the criminally obscure rock & roll outfit the Crybabys with the BoysHonest John Plain and released a pseudo band album under the name Sabre Jet. His tasteful, rocking guitar magic has been the faerie dust on albums as essential as Sudden’s The Truth Doesn’t Matter, the Dogs’ More Unchartered Heights of Disgrace and Hunter’s Dirty Laundry (to which he contributed Never Trust a Blonde, a staple of his sets to this day). All this is to say: the dude’s got more street cred than Alan Moore has hair, if those streets lead to various dives and bars in the rougher London neighborhoods.

What he’s also got is beaucoups of soul, as evidenced by Love and Hurt. Bath’s first and so far only official solo album was originally released in 2001 on a tiny label that was an outgrowth of a record shop, neither of which exist anymore. Fortunately the obsessives at Angel Air have plucked the record from the dustbins of history and replaced it before our eyes and ears, and we’re all the better for it. Given the opportunity to really show off his six-string fire, Bath the guitarist instead chooses to concentrate on Bath the songwriter, applying the lessons he’s learned at the feet of Hunter, Sudden, et al to make the record that Ronnie Wood might have made if he’d let his Faces mate Ronnie Lane produce it. And sing it. And write the songs.

No doubt much to the disappointment of those expecting Bath to rock the fuck out like he’s had too many drinks and can’t tell his amp is cranked to 15, the record heavily features low-key, C&W-fueled ballads and midtempo groovers. But sedate doesn’t mean sleepy – there’s no bullshit to be shoveled or fat to be trimmed here, and thus no sluggishness allowed. To Die For (You gotta lotta soul/Show me the way to go – what lady could resist that?), Gimme a Choice and Stop Talkin’ Bout Money rock modestly but surely, raising the pulse without kicking up a fuss. Bit of Your Pride (featuring a mournful lap steel), Don’t Go Waistin’ [sic] My Heart and the title track get straight to the melancholy heart of the matter, gently pinning a bruised heart to a tattered sleeve. The 12-string and steel-adorned Tumbleweed sounds for all the world like it was captured on the back porch of a homestead out in the desert under a canopy of stars. Led by Bath’s ultra-tasteful guitar work and conversational keen, the tracks waste no time on theatrics and just channel the man’s soul into your speakers.

This edition comes with a pair of bonus tracks, both covers. The weary but satisfied All the Good Times, penned by Sudden, comes from the sessions for The Truth Doesn’t Matter, ranking with the best of that brilliant record. Aftermath nugget Flight 505 hails from an obscure Swedish Rolling Stones tribute and showcases Bath at his most desperately rocking, channeling both Keith Richards and Woody at the same time with his solo. The songs make great adjunct tracks, but in truth they’re not needed. Darrell Bath requires little help from ringers to draw attention to his gifts. Love and Hurt is the album fantasized about by the grizzled romantic in us all.

- Michael Toland
Judas Priest - British Steel (30th Anniversary Edition)

'Pounding the world like a battering ram' - Rapid Fire

As a statement of intent / article of faith you can't really get more inciting than that as an opening line for a metal album. This ultra influential slab of well, british steel, gets the remastering massage for unleashment once again this time armed with DVD of a 30th anniversary live show. Along with Motorhead's ACE OF SPADES this originally sneered onto the streets in post-punk Britain 1980 like the metal godding daddy of the embryonic NWOBHM bringing dawn and cementing the eighties as a metal decade. Newcomers can see the influence on Maiden, Metallica, Dio and beyond to battle metal. Time may have tamed it's impact though not it's temerity. It's a stern, staunch tirade & a lotta fun. Opening barricade Rapid Fire is like a blueprint for Killers (the track) & Metal Gods ('engulfed in motorbreath'). Despite overdoing the penchant for fist in the air metallers all together now of United (see also Rose Tattoo's cringing, vehemently un-angry, menacing-as-mash-potato plod We Can't Be Beaten) though the sci-fi stained Metal Gods is a classic of lumbering molten intent to soundtrack any Cronenberg (I'll leave you to ponder Proust-like on Freudian lines like 'Ripping men apart...'). Halford's enunciation matches the gristly guitar gouges, strafing speakers from severe to Teutonically as well as Tamworthly industrial but still bolstered with sinewy bluesy soul. The Rage may surprise (and/or sicken) some with it's 'oooh look at that Sting feller, eh?' cod-reggae insertions but it's really the bruisers here you need - namely ballistic scalpers Breaking The Law (Priests's Paranoid), Grinder, Steeler & Living After Midnight. For the hardcore it's a little treasure though perhaps not a whole chest-thumping trove. I can imagine they (as I did & I'm far from a die-hard Priest proselytiser) would be well nourished by some contemporary live clips & more bonus tracks than Red White & Blue (which is far from Lizzy doing Roisin Dubh: A Rock Legend though oddly stirring, like Priest at the Proms) and a live Grinder, that suggest the sort of afterthought that came with the initial influx of CD's when label Asskiss&Rip-off berks tried to justify their expense accounts by inserting a paltry live cut or random b-side. That slight niggle aside, this is pretty high on list of essential metal albums (& if you have no idea what they are then you should really go get this), the concert invokes enough power, glory &, importantly, passion to overlook how far Maiden surpassed them and the gloriously down to earth 'making of...' documentary (including how Living... came about) provides an interesting, if not illuminating, backdrop to the whole.

'That's what metal'll do - it'll make you a resilient person...' - Rob Halford
Stu Gibson
British Steel 30th Anniversary Promo Clip
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