Angel Air SJPCD120.
A line-up that includes Honest John, Darrell Bath and Vom Ritchie, who contributed to Ian Hunter's rather good Dirty Laundry album in 1995, should guarantee good, hard-edged rock 'n' roll, for those are the musicians who, with Bartie Slob and Nick Peckham recorded this album the following year, now released for the first time.
This is true, but only up to a point. The guitars are well in evidence and the album does have a certain groove that other bands would die for. At times there is a nod to early-70's era Stones, also the Faces and at others a nod to late-70's punk. It starts off promisingly enough with Joe's Song, an up-tempo rocker while the slower Rock n Roll Heart (co-written by Ian) tells the story of someone who can't kick the rock n roll habit.
But when the best song on the album is a faithful cover of Dylan's I Want You, you begin to realise that something is wrong. No one tune stands out in the mind, nothing to inspire you to hit the "repeat" button on the CD player... Like all pub rock it sounds good at first but five minutes later is forgotten. This is a shame, as I think the Crybabies would go down well in a live setting, but I am left with the feeling that Bath and Plain (the two main songwriters) gave most of their best material to the Dirty Laundry album leaving only the left-overs for this one.
That said, it is harmless enough and fans wishing to explore Darrell Bath's recorded output a little further would be well advised to give this one a spin.Adrian Perkins