Rayoso Music [Release date 04.11.16]
Having first left his mark on the late 70′s punk rock scene with the band Hostages, San Francisco-based guitarist Ray Vaughn disappeared off the music radar in 1992. Over 20 years later, he returned to the scene in 2013 with his debut solo album Way Down Low, an album echoing his punk rock past, but with an eye to the present / future.
With fellow ex Hostages guitarist Ed Rawlings, and producer Michael Rossen still in tow, Wounded Bird picks up where Way Down Low left off, this time with James DePrato (Chuck Prophet) on electric, slide and acoustic guitars, baritone guitar, dobro and mandolin, Kevin T White (Chuck Prophet) on bass, and Prairie Prince (The Tubes, Todd Rundgren) on drums completing the line-up.
With Phil Bennet (Starship) making a cameo appearance on Hammond B3, the album opens in some style with ‘Human Calculator’ – a number that echoes the punk scene attitude of early Blondie and Elvis Costello, the rhythm sensibility of The Tubes and Talking Heads, and Pretenders style guitars.
In many ways it’s reminiscent of the recent emergence of The International Swingers – another group breathing fresh life into the no pretensions, no frills, no production trickery approach of the punk explosion.
In true punk fashion, the album is short – just eight numbers spanning 32 minutes, but it’s a well-balanced set – ‘Change In Latitude’ has a relaxed- almost Dire Straits vibe with some ghostly guitar work, ‘Rain’ is similarly laid back and atmospheric, and the closer ‘It Happened On Willow Street’ demonstrates an acoustic sensibility that would have been out of place 40 years ago at the height of punk.
If there’s a complaint it’s about the length of the set, but Wounded Bird is nevertheless a rather beguiling record. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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