Release 19th August 2013 Toxic Arrow Records. Distribution - Cargo.
What happens when Stampede’s singer Reuben Archer (Stampede, Lautrec, Wild Horses, Lionheart) and guitarist Rob Wolverson get together to write? …. ‘Personal Sin’, that’s what. Along come a couple of other guitarists (Chris Clowsley and Vince Neades) and together they write a few more tracks and an album is born with a little help from their friends and when I say friends, I mean astounding group of people who’ve played in the best bands, most probably some of the ones you grew up with.
Dave Meniketti (Y&T), John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (Status Quo), Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Coliseum 2, Snakecharmer). Harry James (Magnum, Thunder, Snakecharmer). Luke Morley (The Union, Thunder), Paul Quinn (Saxon), Paul Raymond (UFO, Paul Raymond Project). Derek Holt (Climax Blues Band), Rocky Newton (Lionheart, Michael Schenker Group), Kevin Riddles (Angel Witch, Tytan), Steve Holbrook (Lautrec), Chris Clowsley (Stampede). Christain Nokes (IO Earth). Chris Dyer (Ruff Kutz, Skalinskis). Paul Gooderman (The Remnants, Archer Marriott Band), Steve Graystone (Stampede). Vince Neades (Archer Marriott Band). Al Cormel (Slide Boy Roy & The Decades). Joe Blanks (The Howling, The Timics). Elizabeth Fields. Dulcie Phoenix.
I think I may need a hoover to pick up all the names I’ve dropped, but this really is an album with collaborations of the highest quality and what makes it so great is that it’s really just a collection of good mates doing what they do best…making music.
Recorded and mixed by Rob Wolverson (Stampede) and Sheena Sear. Mastered by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Steve Harris). Even the album design is done by Hugh Gilmour (Pig Iron).
If you’ve fallen in to the ways of the download, you’ll be missing out on the physical copy of art work, complete with foreword from the legend that is Malcolm Dome, great photos, the ALWAYS welcomed centre fold of band montage pictures and lyrics.
RIGHT! On with the album - I’ve written about every song, as believe me there are no duds on here, but to spare you some long ass article, here’s as brief a summarisation as I can edit.
London is experiencing a heat wave, I was heading out to the garden to listen through headphones on my laptop, but then I decided to go all old school on myself and play it through a proper stereo. Oh my! The sound is SO good; the mix is warm and clear. These kinds of levels are something I’ve missed so much in modern recordings, hats off to the engineers. The bass and drums are balanced beautifully, none of this ‘forget the rhythm section, let’s turn the guitar and vocals up to full pelt’ business. No one is up to eleven. They’ve got something of content to say/play so they don’t need to shriek. Instead Reuben Archer’s Personal Sin builds breaks and harmonises with groove and precision.
Classic rock structures, atmospheric bass, dreamlike guitar licks and subtle suggestive drums lead you back in to power rock and half time endings come in the form of ‘Bulletproof’. A great beginning that grabs your attention and leaves you wanting more.
The single ‘Play My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is being released as a double A Side with track 4 ‘Lately’ on July 22nd. Both these tracks grab you. If, like me, you can’t remember a time before you listened to Thin Lizzy and Free then I think you’ll appreciate the blend of Blues and Rock incorporated within. Whether you recognise the intro’s reference of “Mama Don’t Allow No“ from Bo Diddley’s Twisting, early Jimmy Page’s Skiffle or (as I did) from J.J Cale’s ‘Mama Don’t Like’, I think you’ll like the rocked related version that leads you in to the song. The vocals echo, almost as a voice from the past, teleporting you to now with an honest inherent reaction where your body feels the music. In particular I was tickled by Joe Blanks’ bass drum triplets and Rocky Newton’s bass levels. Of course Rob’s trills and drags on guitar simply leave you in awe. There’s a cracking video for it too.
‘Lately’ - Think a bit Alice Cooper ‘School’s Out’, Thin Lizzy ‘Don’t Believe a Word’ and Allman Brothers ‘Jessica’ blended with lyrics we can all identify with. Old friends reverberate in your mind.
Vocally ‘Personal Sin’ is faultless and lyrically again, you can’t argue with what’s being expressed. There’s talk of old days, old friends, comment on modern culture and all with the gesture of moving on, remembering the good times and reminding us we live now and the future is ours to make the best of.
The album possesses you with thirteen tracks, taking you on a little trip away via rock, blues, flamenco a little twist of metal and a splash of almost jazz funk at certain moments. You can expect jaw dropping guitars wailing and complex runs complimented with controlled simplicity as a balance - that is a skill in itself, endings that make you say ‘Ooh yeah, that was good!’ Drum led section changes. Grooves that interrupt and wake you from getting lost in the moment for too long, power drum fills winding up and building tension. Intravenous Bass lines that just flow, keeping you alive and enthralled. Scene setting piano pieces melodically sombre and fitting, harmonica and backing vocals, always a treat. Castanets snapping and Tango stomping rhythms inspiring the matador in you, blues breaks back in to rock outros. I imagine smiling bikers tuned in to iPods as they ride on the open road to a meet (responsibly of course) at The ‘Ace Café’.
I cannot rate the level of musicianship highly enough on this album. If it was half as much fun to make as to listen to, then they must all be still smiling! Here are some of my highlights...
‘Desperation Train’ has a dragging harmonica that brings a bluesy twinkle along with the pounding you can feel the rock core building ‘til you get to the line “Riding on this desperation train”. There’s a cut to a synchronised kind of harmonic moment where everyone plays the melody of the chorus in unison, a feat that is so effective, it just gets better and better. I loved it.
‘TV Junkie’ is a bar song, evidently you wouldn’t be watching TV, but I think that’s the point. You want to hear it coming on, just so you liven up. You need to dance; you have to tap your glass and air guitar with your mates. Be prepared to duck when someone decides they want to be the drummer in your ‘air band’ or you’ll probably get a whipping at some point.
‘Shakin’ All Over ‘ is a cover (Johnny Kid & The Pirates), normally I’m not a big fan, but I’ve always loved this song, so thought ‘why the hell not!’….. OH WHAT! DRUMS! F-ing Hell Fire!! The drummer kicks ten tones (not tonnes) of rhythm. If you like drum machines/sequencers/ drum programs, all I’d say is get your head out of some techno geek’s ass and listen to this. If Joe Blanks doesn’t have you ‘shaking all over’ then you are dead, get thine own self to an undertakers immediately!!
This album has made my week.
You know when you’re drunk and you try to say musician and it comes out a bit like magician, but more some kind of hybrid between the two? ‘Mujician’ I think we’ve found the owners of this label.
Please put this on a stereo to hear it properly. I’ve listened to it now through headphones, laptop speakers and it’s not the same. Give it a try just for me, remind yourself how music should sound, if not this album, any cd, record or even tape, before you forget completely. I’m off to listen to this again.
The band are as above.
Rueben Archer’s Personal Sin album is released on August 19th Toxic Arrow Records/ Cargo
2 Play My Rock ‘n’ Roll
3 Personal Sin
5 Time On My Hands
6 Desperation Train
7 TV Junkie
8 Ace Café
9 Spanish Nights
10 Reuben’s Blues
11 Shakin’ All Over
12 Like A Clown
13 Sooner or Later