Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 02

Sometimes it seems like such a short time ago, even now.  Things were all so different then, I was younger, keener, looked at the world with a fresher, albeit more naïve mind-set – a very different person in a different place, at such a different stage in my journey.  I like to think back on those times, when I get a quiet moment to myself; maybe even raise a glass to myself as I was then.  This album takes me straight back there, like it was yesterday.  Here’s to June 2014.

Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 08

A year ago today* I bought Rival Sons Great Western Valkyrie on a hot day in Chester.  My expectations were high, the rock press were falling over themselves to anoint them the saviours of rock/next big new thing, I really liked the Western chic of the cover AND Pressure & Time was (and still is) on high rotation here at 1537 manor.  I was in the market for more classy, classic-sounding rock and R&B.  I bought it home and I think I’ve played it maybe four times before tonight.  I know all you 1537 fanatics out there will remember it didn’t make my Top 11 LPs of 2014.  It just didn’t take with me.

My predominant memory of Great Western Valkyrie was that it was a little lacking in tunes and memorable moments, in the variation that set Pressure & Time apart from the pack.  It was interesting to hear it again now.  Although it gets bonus points for being a three-sided LP.

Crap attempt at photographing the etched side of the LP
Crap attempt at photographing the etched side of the LP

It all starts so well the pure rock, crunch and roll of ‘Electric Man’, a song so manly and over-heated that if you play it 3 times in a row it will mark its’ territory in the corner of your room.  We get lots of suggestive mutterings about ‘sexy girls’ and promises to take a certain lady ‘to the sugar shack’** over one of the best and sharpest beats I’ve heard in ages – new bassist Dave Beste adding some real muscle to Rival Sons’ sound.  If I say it’s a bit of an amalgam of hoary old rockers like Led Zep, Free and even Humble Pie, I don’t mean it is a derivative track, just that the band are prowling around that particular neighbourhood at night; knocking over bins and trying to look in bathroom windows.

Jay Buchanan is pretty much my favourite hard rock singer out there today and he really gets to open up his pipes on the next two tracks, ‘Good Luck’ and ‘Secret’.  The former shows his penchant for his radical tactic of actually singing, rather than screeching*^ and is kin to my all-time favourite Rival Sons track ‘Young Love’ (but not as good) and the latter is another belter where Buchanan gets to impersonate a certain priapic golden God from West Bromwich to good effect.  My fave track on Great Western Valkyrie is the resigned ‘Good Things’ which features some great keys from the late Ikey Owens.  Everything that can be great about Rival Sons just coalesces for me on this one, excellent vocal, great playing from all and at the risk of sounding a bit retro, a great vibe; it just sounds like someone trying to be optimistic in the face of overwhelming odds.

Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 07

As I’m a very superficial guy I’ll also say right here that I love the unfinished looking cover art for this LP and the look Rival Sons have adopted.  I’m big on fashion as you all know by now and I’d describe it as a kind of weirdo western vibe; think a Californian goldrush town, 20 years after it all dried up, now being ruled by cattle barons and a strange religious cult.  Checking out the cover pics I wouldn’t be surprised if the gentleman’s’ names weren’t Doc Greene, Cleetus, Rictus Van Shine and the Reverend Abel Snyffer.  True story.

Rictus Van Shine, The Reverend Abel Snyffer, Cleetus and Doc Greene
Rictus Van Shine, The Reverend Abel Snyffer, Cleetus and Doc Greene

Unfortunately Great Western Valkyrie does have a chunk of filler on it, tracks like ‘Open My Eyes’, ‘Belle Star’ and ‘Where I’ve Been’ aren’t bad per se, Rival Sons are too good for that, they’re just average – good/average, but still average and that’s a sin because there’s evidently far too much talent here to plump for that.  Unfortunately, when stuck for ideas they do tend to reach for the Led Zeppelin dressing up box, witness the ‘ … Levee Breaks’ drums that are pinched for ‘Open My Eyes’ and the middle section of ‘Dazed & Confused’ that gets borrowed for, the otherwise great in its own right, ‘Destination On Course’.  My theory is that whilst new bassist Beste adds beef to the sound, he isn’t as adroit as the previous incumbent Robin Ererhart and so they fall back on what they know^.  This in itself stops the LP from scoring big, but I am afraid I do have a crime to report.

Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 05

Right there after ‘Open My Eyes’ comes the worst new song I’ve heard in years, ‘Rich And The Poor’.  If I was being charitable I’d say it sounded like an amalgam of Muse, a nursery rhyme and a Who song I don’t like, but I’m not being charitable today.  Despite some clever keyboard atmospherics and a vocal flourish, or two this is just turgid dog-end doggerel from Dis.  I mean, I fucking ask you!

Rich and the poor, that’s how people get pain
She said I’m gonna show you how babies are made

That’s the knock out chorus.  It’s awful, especially from a band this good.  AND its misleading, everyone knows babies are delivered to new parents by storks, not made! Implying that the creation of new life involves bumping uglies with a member of the opposite sex is just irresponsible! Fools!  I deleted this track off my iTunes, drastic I know, but I hope that it teaches such an otherwise fine band a lesson.

Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 04
I like this one

Speaking of which, one of the main reasons I got Great Western Valkyrie out from the archives is that I’m off to see Rival Sons at the end of the month in Wrexham^^ in a 500 capacity venue and I’m really looking forward to it.  I firmly predict though that I shan’t be jumping up and down shouting for ‘Rich And The Poor’ though, well maybe not all night. If I was one of those ratings guys I’d give this a 6.5/10 and tell them to come back a bit lighter on their feet next time around.

But anyway here’s to those crazy days of June 2014.

Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 03
I forgot to mention the fact all the songs have subtitles is, I feel, a wack move

556 Down.


Rival Sons GW Valkyrie 01

*that’s actually one of those ‘lies’, as people insist on calling them, but it is only 3 days short of a ‘truth’, as people insist on calling them.

**a US donut outlet?

*^it’ll never catch on.

^or it might just be that they really like Led Zeppelin.

^^just over the border into God’s Own Country.

20 thoughts on “Close, But

  1. The stork that delivered our son was a real jerk. It took him 21 hours to deliver the kid, and he didn’t even offer a discount for the delay.

    Still, for the quibbles, having only one song you need to balete isn’t that bad. If the rest makes you happy, it’s all good. I haven’t checked these guys out yet, so I’m gonna take your word for it.

    1. They’d sound good on the radio on a long journey I reckon.

      I hear you on the whole stork thing, I think its time Amazon got involved in the market.

  2. I still haven’t heard this one. Doesn’t sound like I’m missing too much, though … I’ll stick with Pressure & Time for the Rival Sons hit.

    1. I still think the 10 day vigil their fans held outside my house was a bit ott. But I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for keeping their protest peaceful, these things can spill over into violence and nobody wants a repeat of the ‘Ain’t My Bitch’ riots.

  3. I think this dropped in my top 5 at Ladanos year end top albums blowouts at his site at number 3! I love this record man front to back and everything in between! I have no idea what it is….well Good Luck is a great friggin tune and I’m like u Buchanan has a deadly set of pipes but the MVP for me is Scott Holliday with his fuzzed out guitar tone man I just love it…..
    No worries dude ..I ain’t gonna troll you! So no slaying here fella!
    Hahahaha….but I see and understand yours and MIKEYS vibe……
    But hey man I’m just trying to cup a buzz here!

    1. Trolls, eh? Can’t believe you’re viciously attacking me like this on my own blog. Man! You kiss your mother with that mouth?

      I think I’d have liked this more if Pressure & Time hadn’t been such a killer LP.

      It’s not a bad album either, it has some absolute killer tracks on it. I’m listening to the last one as I type. Can’t wait to see them on the 30th too!

      Troll !!

  4. So, rather more spark and creativity in the review than the album, eh? (Are those thumps the approaching troll army? I’m by your side (as long as we have Grendel as back-up)).

    Just love the idea of the Led Zeppelin dress-up box. Brilliant. Which other bands have also provided cast-off clothes for enthralled kiddies?

    1. Bruce The Trollslayer? It’ll be vast, novels, action figures, movie …

      Thank you, it just described how some bands put on their influences. I think there’s definitely a Beatles dress-up box, not necessarily a Stones one but definitely a Ramones one.

  5. Your review of this album and mine are kind of similar in how we received the album. We both found a few quibbles. I wonder if you will get trolled for you review like I did!

    Also, good point about the stork. I honestly don’t know what rock bands are singing about half the time.

    1. I do remember you reviewing it, but I deliberately didn’t go back and read it before I did my own (I’m too easily led – although not too easily Led unlike the band).

      It’s excellent in places but they’re a better band than this and I’ll slay any trolls who disagree.

      You heard ‘Pressure & Time’ yet?

      1. On the other hand, when I write a review, I plunder all of everybody’s else’s ideas by reading their reviews first. 😉

        No Pressure and Time yet. Stop pressuring me 😉

Leave a Reply