Bad Reputation [Release date 22.12.14]
‘Mountain Man’ has a lovely retro feel – part garage rock, part straight ahead rock and roll – and survivor’s lyrics that never dim in their optimistic outlook. ‘Mountain Man’ beguiles us with a melange of choppy rhythms, big hooks and a punk like energy that envelopes the listener.
Todd’s vocals nuance Axel Rose, Tom Petty and Willie Nile, but he constantly changes his attack depending on the emotion of the song.
‘Stand Up’ for example, has a Neil Young style grungy feel, complete with hypnotic jangling guitars which gives way to an exhortation to communality on the chorus. In contrast he mixes some Stonesy sounding riff with rich gospel bv’s on the lyrically familiar ‘Glory Train’, while ‘Devil Woman’ uses a Farfisa sounding keyboard to give it a catchy, retro and edgy feel.
He goes for the throat with a thinly disguised Bowie riff from ‘Bitch’ on the opening ‘These Days’, before a broad sweep levers us into a potent chorus, while there’s no denying his passion on lines such as: ‘cos it’s a long way, hear what I say, if your gonna make it in the USA. Said it’s a long way, that’s the price you got to pay, we’re all in this together each and every day.’ And as he exhorts his band to greater efforts with an exhilaratory ‘c’mon’ you can feel this is rock and roll with edge.
Not everything works though, as the pedal steel/organ led country feel of ‘Strength in You’ doesn’t quite have the defining chorus it seeks.
Todd doesn’t do things by half as both his performance and his lyrics are totally committed. There’s a call to communality on the call and response of ‘Voice of The People’, to the familiar Creedence riff on the title track. The latter slips into a shimmering groove with a stop-time chorus, a strong percussive drive and a heartfelt message: “Rise up it isn’t illegal; we are the voice of the people”.
He mixes a shot of rock & roll with subtle grooves and enjoys occasional Springsteen flourishes as on the dramatic ‘Let It Rain’, before finishing with the infectious rhythms of ‘Geronimo’.
The album features an impressive roll call of sideman including Mitch Perry from UFO and Jorgen Carlson from Gov’t Mule, but ultimately Todd stamps his own personality on a feverish album that successfully engages us from the start and doesn’t let go.
Todd Griffin is the kind of the rocker who doesn’t give a fig about genres or changing musical fashions, mainly because he sings heartfelt songs with real message and plays them with a fervent passion that will have you reaching for the repeat button. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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