Album review: TONY McLOUGHLIN – The Contender

Tony McLoughlin - The Contender

He may look uncannily like Billy Connolly’s long lost brother, but opening with strains of Muhammad Ali getting ready to ‘rumble in the jungle’, Tony Mcloughlin’s fifth album The Contender is a glorious Telecaster-infused slab of Tom Petty/Springsteen inspired Americana.

Working once again with fellow Northern Ireland countryman Ben Reel, this time with McLoughlin co-producing, and with the same rhythm section of Ronnie O’Flynn (bass) and Michael Black (drums), The Contender features the six string virtuosity of long term collaborator German born, Nashville based German Thomm Jutz, German bluesman Timo Gross, and respected Monaghan musician Mick McCarney.

Pete Feenstra pronounced McLoughlin’s last outing as encapsulating ‘all that is good in the contemporary roots rock genre’.  And on the strength of The Contender, I’d have to concur – the songs while borrowing heavily on the likes of Petty, stand tall in their own right, and while McLoughlin’s Petty / Springsteen / Knopfler imbued vocals are equally derivative, there’s a shimmering vibrancy that’s reflective of much of Reel’s own recent work.

The Americana market is an overcrowded place at present, but there’s a gritty soul about that The Contender that makes McLoughlin one of its premier exponents.  Classy.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley



On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)

Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)



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