Now here’s a great surprise, Izzy Stradlin Pressure Drop, 12″ picture disc from 1992. Now I didn’t buy this one, just inherited it from my brother and my recollection of it from way back when was that it was pretty much a cover of the Clash cover version of ‘Pressure Drop’, the original of which is one of my fave songs ever, plus some other vaguely okay stuff. Wrong.
I need to declare an interest here before I go any further, Guns ‘n’ Roses were the last band I can remember where everyone I knew had a favourite member* – for every girl I ever knew it was Steven Adler, but mine was Izzy Stradlin. I always loved him for just being a million miles away from all that was 80’s hard rock and seemingly effortlessly channelling 30 years of the Stones and the Clash cool through every pore, hell it was even rumoured that he preferred to ride his Harley across the States between gigs rather than travelling on the tour bus. Depending on my mood ’14 Years’ can be my favourite GNR track. I wasn’t surprised at all when he left, he always seemed a little disconnected from all the hoop-la and at least they had the taste to replace him with another of my faves, Gilby Clarke
Despite all that I was busy having no money and using the little I had to explore other areas when Pressure Drop came out so I passed on it. It’s credited solely to Izzy Stradlin and so although the band were all in place, most notably Georgia satellite Rick Richards on guitar and Charlie Quintana on drums who’d played with Dylan at one point, no-one had called them the Ju-Ju Hounds yet.
First up is ‘Pressure Drop’ and I humbly beg the band’s pardon, this is a really great cover, punky as hell. A quick drum roll, then all the band come crashing in and head for the horizon as fast as they can. Izzy’s croaky Keith Richards-esque vocals just fit it all perfectly over the top of the speeding tune, singing with no hurry at all and then it all breaks down to a slow reggae groove around the two-minute mark and then it’s over and done in 2:40, far more Rancid than Clash if truth be known. It’s just a great mix of really great elements all dovetailing together and sounds like it was a hell of a lot of fun to make.
Next up is ‘Been A Fix’ a classy Stones/Georgia Satellites hybrid which struts in from the desert with the opening lines, ‘Got something to say, say it to my face / Stop fucking around, bringing me down’, which does the job fine for me. We aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, although I’m pretty sure the Stones played at the presentation when the first wheel was unveiled, but this is a terrifically well done homage. It has to be said that there is some really excellent guitar flickering all around the song towards the end.
‘Came Unglued’ is a faster-paced version of ‘Been A Fix’ and some nice guitar aside a bit undistinguished, proper B-side material. Last track ‘Can’t Hear Em’ is a different kind of beast entirely, featuring a flotilla of backing singers and the vocal talents of Jamaican toaster^ and Clash associate Mikey Dread AND side man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins. What emerges is a surprisingly credible reggae track, a slow-burning loping beast, an awful lot better than most rockers dabblings in these waters and a pointer to some real versatility in Izzy’s bones.
Interestingly ‘Pressure Drop’ was the only track here to make it onto the Izzy Stradlin & The Ju-Ju Hounds album, which is a shame because ‘Been A Fix’ and ‘Can’t Hear Em’ would have improved it, at the expense of a couple of the less-inspired rockers on it^^.
A pleasantly surprisingly good despatch from before Izzy named his hounds. Izzy definitely Iz.
*Apart from the Spice Girls, maybe. I mean I love Godspeed You! Black Emporer but I’d struggle to tell you who my fave was**.
**okay, I lied, it’s the drummer who always wore a Dog Faced Hermans T-shirt and actually seemed to be enjoying himself while he played.
^not a device to brown your Pop tarts in Kingston.
^^the frankly awesome, @Shuffle It All’ notwithstanding.