Sunday, October 14, 2012

Danko Jones - "Rock And Roll Is Black and Blue"

Danko Jones
Rock And Roll Is Black and Blue
Bad Taste Records

The unapologetic machismo rock 'n' roll that is Danko Jones is something of an anomaly, especially stateside. Danko has spent the better part of the last decade continually on the road and taking chances others who spawned from the same piss-soaked rock clubs in the mid-to-late 90s refused to do because it was either considered "selling out" or "not punk rock."
Fuck that.
Danko Jones might have been born and bred in the back alleys of Toronto and ushered in by gunk punk predecessors like the New Bomb Turks, but the band wasn't stupid enough to let peers define how far they would push the envelope. High-profile opening slots for Euro-megastars Backyard Babies,  then back to the motherland with Nickelback and Guns 'N' Roses lifted Danko's profile immensely. Sure, Danko has done all the "cool" gigs, opening for Motorhead, Nashville Pussy, Clutch and the like, but one can't help but wonder if the band hadn't done every European festival in sight or soldiered on through snickers from earlier peers if they would be as far as they are. I'm assuming there wouldn't have been any video trilogies featuring Elijah Wood, Selma Blair, Lemmy, and Ralph Macchio had Danko spent the same time they did with arena rockers as on tired rock 'n' roll bills currently limping their ways all over North America and struggling to simply break even.
On "Rock And Roll Is Black and Blue," Danko continues the same progressions musically as they do career-wise. It's still unmistakable Danko, but songs like "Beautiful Day" and "Always Away" are not only some of the best of the band's catalog, but true radio-friendly rock anthems that will undoubtedly continue to garner the group more widespread attention. The latter sounds like an Angus Young out-take from "Thunderstruck" before a monstrous chorus hook takes it to Top 40-land and at the same time brings it back to full-circle Danko swagger.
"I Believed In God" is as tongue-in-cheek with religion as Danko normally is with women and break-ups complete with the gospel chorus Jones has imagined has been standing next to him at every show since 1996.
And as always, there's plenty of sex and relationship turmoil all over this record, too.
"You Wear Me Down" sports a Clutch-esque riff over a Monster Magnet space rock chorus about yet another impending break-up. "I Don't Care" gets back to basics with the simple question, "Is she into me?" over some fast and furious punk rock riffage.
"Type of Girl" goes all AC/DC in the verse much the same way "Conceited" takes a serious nod from Motorhead's "Liar." As usual though, it's transposed and morphed just enough Lemmy shouldn't take much notice other than to agree that it rocks.
The remaining is either straight sex ("Legs," "Get Up"), splitting from the old lady ("Terrified," "Don't Do This") or scorching punk rock ("The Masochist.")
Bonus track "In Your Arms" might not be considered part of the record but is as close to Danko does Danzig as you'll probably ever hear and certainly worth a listen in it's own right.
New drummer Atom Willard — from Rocket from the Crypt fame — also gives the band a serious kick in the ass sonically and musically. There are drum fills and structures on "Rock And Roll..." you wouldn't have thought possible on a Danko Jones record just a few years prior. And in just about every instance it works.
"Rock And Roll ..." doesn't quite top "Born a Lion" (widely-considered the essential Danko album) but it's as close as the band has come since perhaps "Sleep is the Enemy." Crucial, vibrant, urgent rock 'n' roll and an early candidate for record of the year. 8/10 — B.J. Lisko
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