Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Dead Daisies' 'The Dead Daisies' - Album Review

The Dead Daisies are a relatively new rock band centred around the songwriting partnership of frontman Jon Stevens (Noiseworks; INXS) and guitarist David Lowy (Red Phoenix; Mink). During their fairly short time together, depending on who is free at the time, various other musicians have toured with them to make up the numbers; but Steves and Lowy are the constant force behind the direction of the band. Their self-titled debut album was released last month and features songs that the duo have written together over the years. It is a back-to-basics hard rock album that mixes the soulfulness of Bad Company with the melodies of Foreigner to create a simple yet catchy album that is sure to interest many people. They decided to give the album away free with Classic Rock Magazine which, in my opinion, was a great marketing move. It is hard for new bands to get noticed, but now the entire readership of one of the UK's biggest rock magazines has had the chance to hear the album and I am sure that many of those will have stood up and taken notice. Due to the fact that the album only came in a small cardboard sleeve, the information I have about the album is limited. Apart from Stevens and Lowy, it is unclear which of their many touring partners actually played on this album. I would have liked to have known a little more about the musicians that featured on the album, but I understand that it is tricky to get lots of information on a small piece of card. As well as recently releasing their debut album, The Dead Daisies have also been on a pretty extensive tour of the UK as special guests to Black Star Riders which will have brought their music to more people. The current touring line-up of the band features guitarist Richard Fortus (Love Spit Love; The Psychedelic Furs, Guns N' Roses; Thin Lizzy), bassist Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones), keyboardist Dizzy Reed (Guns N' Roses; Johnny Crash) and drummer Charley Drayton (The X-Pensive Winos; The Cult) - but, as I mentioned earlier, I am not sure whether or not these guys also played on the band's debut album.

The album gets off to a good start with It's Gonna Take Time which definitely has a big British rock 'n' roll vibe about it. Stevens has a very strong rock voice and sounds a little bit like a less gravely Paul Rogers. There is nothing fancy about this song, it just pairs a pretty reasonable riff with a nice, melodic chorus to good effect. Bands have been doing this for years, so why do anything different? The band's lead single Lock 'n' Load is up next and this is co-written by and features the guitar legend Slash (Guns N' Roses; Slash's Snakepit; Velvet Revolver) - which they do not keep quiet about, unsurprisingly. It is one of the album's best songs and has a massive chorus and lots of excellent lead guitar throughout. There is a lot of nice, understated keyboard work during this song that fills in all the gaps and really completes the song. Again, this is just simple rock music, but really enjoyable. Washington is a nice upbeat song that mixes acoustic and electric guitars in the into to create a really good groove. Short lead breaks and really retro keyboard sounds intertwine to really take the listener back to classic rock's 1970s heyday. Yeah Yeah Yeah has that early AOR vibe about it, when it was still very much firmly rooted in classic rock. I could imagine this appearing on one of Foreigner's very early albums with it's massive chorus and delicate slide guitar in places. This one is a real ear worm, and you will be singing the 'yeah yeah' bit for ages after hearing it! Yesterday is a piano-led ballad with a very slight bluesy overtones. Lowy's guitar work on this song is restrained but really emotive. Throughout this album his playing is very tasteful and the tone he gets out of his guitar is delicious. It is the piano however that is the main driving force of the song. Again, the sound is very rooted in the 1970s but it is all the better for it. Some might say that this is an album that is stuck in the past, but sometimes it is nice to hear something new that pays tribute so well to all the old favourites. There is nothing wrong with openly acknowledging your influences and having fun playing music that you love.

The next highlight is the very catchy Miles in Front of Me. It has easily the biggest chorus on the whole album and the staccato main riff is full of energy. It is not heavy by any stretch, but it is the most rocking that the album gets - you could headbang to it! The chorus is just so melodic that anyone who hears it is likely to get hooked. For me, it is definitely the best song on the album. If, in the future, the band carry on down this route then I will be very happy indeed! Bible Row is a good song even if it does not seem to quite fit in with the rest of the material. The verses are quite bluesy but the choruses have quite a Celtic-punk vibe similar to The Pogues. I like the way the song pays tribute to Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode in a few spots. This song has grown on me quite a lot since I first heard it, and now I really like it even if it is the black sheep of the album. After this song, the album's quality fades slightly. Tomorrow is very enjoyable however. It has a really nice chorus that is backed up by lots of big keyboards. The main riff is pretty unoriginal though and actually sounds like things they have used earlier on in the album. If I had a criticism of the album it would be that, Bible Row notwithstanding, lots of the songs are very similar. In the future, I hope that the band try a few new sounds so that they do not become too constrained by the limits of the genre. Can't Fight This Feeling is also pretty decent. It is a bit of a power ballad that would work well live with a crowd that was well versed in the material. There is a really nice slide guitar solo towards the end of the song and, again, the piano tends to drive it. The album comes to an end with Talk to Me which picks up the pace a little and ensures that the album ends on a rocking moment. There are some nice bluesy lead breaks throughout that, again, pay tribute to many excellent guitarists from the past. It's a solid end to what is mostly a very solid album. Overall, I have enjoyed listening to this album a fair bit over the past month. Seeing them live with Black Star Riders was also good and, hearing some of the even newer songs in their set, I do not think it will be too long before we see another album. If you like your 1970s rock, this is definitely something you should check out, but do not go into this expecting anything new or groundbreaking!

The album was released on 11th November 2013 via Spitfire Music. Below is the band's promotional video for Lock 'n' Load.

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