Nuclear Blast (Release date – 26.02.16)
There have been a number of candidates over the years competing for the title of the ‘hardest working man in rock’. A few instantly spring to mind, Ginger Wildheart, Devin Townsend and Dave Grohl to name but three, individuals always on the road or in the studio and with at least two or three projects on the go. Ricky Warwick is another name to add to the list and over the past couple of years he was been performing and creating music tirelessly with Black Star Riders and on his acoustic tours with Damon Johnson.
This double album package is the fruit of yet another solo side project which incorporated many collaborations with the likes of Joe Elliott, Ginger Wildheart (yup, him again!) and Richard Fortus. The project is a real game of two halves with the first CD, When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues), being a full on electric album and the second, Hearts On Trees, being a more laid back acoustic affair.
The first CD is the one which makes the biggest impression. Big, rocking numbers with a decidedly Celtic influence are the order of the day, think Thin Lizzy but with a rougher, punkier edge and you are in the right area. Opener, ‘The Road To Damascus Street’, kicks things off with a sledgehammer riff which immediately grabs your attention holding it throughout the album.
The lyrical content of the record draws a lot from Ricky’s early years growing up in Ireland and the situation in the country at that time. Indeed the title track ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues), recounts nights when Ricky was allowed to stay up late and play records for his father and his friends when they were having a bit of a house party.
As you would expect all the tracks are well written and played, another couple of standout tracks to listen for are ‘Johnny Ringo’s Last Ride’ and ‘Son Of The Wind’. If this was a single disc release then I am sure most people would be very satisfied with the music, but being Mr Warwick one album was never going to be enough to contain all his creativeness…
‘Hearts On Trees’ finds Ricky in a reflective mood, again with some songs looking back to the troubled and divided streets where he was raised. Anyone who witnessed the Warwick/ Johnson acoustic shows last year will know that Ricky has the ability to be just as hard hitting unplugged as he is when fully amped.
Here Ricky veers from the quiet and soothing like on the title track to the fast and furious stomp of ‘Schwaben Redoubt’. Again the playing on all tracks is top notch and in the acoustic setting Ricky’s heartfelt vocals come shining through. One track which stands out is ‘Psycho’, an unassuming little ditty with a very dark lyric. This is one track that I hope Ricky hasn’t written from personal experience!
Individually these two albums would have proven to be value for money such is the quality of the music on offer. The fact that both are packaged together makes the purchase a no brainer in my opinion. With Warwick’s presence at the moment he could be considered a rock ambassador and with this double set he is really spoiling us. ****1/2
Review by David Wilson
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