Way back in the day, Great Britain was the country that gave us the rock bands that made rock music global. Sure, The U.S.A. was responsible for giving the world artists such as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and yes, the old blues legends like Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King and the likes who were the ones responsible for influencing and inspiring every rock artist that made it big after were American. But England was the country that made rock huge – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Cream and the Yardbirds – you know them all. Also, in from the wings came bands such as The Faces and Humble Pie, bands that have had a huge impact on many of the bands we love to listen to today. Let’s not forget about glam rock either – Sweet, Slade, T-Rex, Bowie, Mott The Hoople – all English. With the 70’s came harder and edgier bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep and after them, their spin-offs Rainbow and Whitesnake. All of them English as well. But the USA took over more and more and apart from the huge success of Def Leppard, USA have been the biggest rock music export in the world, at least throughout the 80’s and 90’s. But in the mid eighties to the early 90’s, when yours truly was a young guy who had taken melodic rock and AOR to his heart, there was an explosion of English pop influenced melodic rock / AOR bands that many of us thought would make it big – Thunder, Shy, FM, Dare, Romeo’s Daughter, Heartland, Virginia Wolf and older bands like Mama’s Boys and Magnum went in that direction as well. But there was one band that I liked better than the rest of them – Little Angels. With three records under the belt, I thought that this was the band that would be the next big thing after Def Leppard. They had it all, killer songs, catchy melodies, they were great musicians and the had the cool looks – but they never made it across the sea. They were really big in England, but the rest of the world never saw their brilliance and in the mid 90’s the band split up. The band reunited for a short tour in 2012 – their gig at Sweden Rock Festival was brilliant – but unfortunately, the guys didn’t have the spark to make it a full-time reunion. But there was one member of that band that I liked the most, guitarist Bruce John Dickinson (he had to use his middle name John to not get confused with a certain singer). He had all the skills of a real guitar hero – the feel, the tone, the technique, the phrasing, the vibrato. So when I heard the news that he had a new band going (I totally missed out on his band b.l.o.w. in the 90’s), a band that have just released their debut album, I just had to check them out. The rest of the band members – Matt Mitchell on vocals (Furyon, Pride), Randy Nixon on drums (Magic Bullet Band, The Jeevas, Straw) Dan (Lundholm) Electro on rhythm guitar and Ben Daniel on bass – are all new talents for me, so I was very curious to check this record out.
In the press release, the band tells us that they are steeped in the spirit of rock music of the 60’s and 70’s, that the equipment used for this album are mostly of vintage kind and that there are no ballads on a Colour Of Noise record. While all of this sounds real cool to me, the retro rock thing is hardly anything new. Bands like Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, BlackWolf, Federal Charm, Vintage Trouble, S.U.N. and Black Country Communion / California Breed has already gone down that road many times. To be honest, to go retro feels like the hip thing to do in the 2000’s. That’s why it is important for those bands to create an identity for themselves, something that separates them from all the other retro acts. And I must say, most of the bands has been successful in that department. If Colour Of Noise has managed to do that remains to be seen – so let’s find out, shall we? Opener “Can You Hear Me” kicks all doubts right off the map. It’s a groovy rock crusher with both its feet in the early 70’s with a striking melody that sticks immediately. There is no cheese and I doubt it will ever be a radio hit, but it will work like charm live and it sure rocked my socks off. First single / video “Can’t Take It With You” is heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, has a hot groove and it sounds like it could be off some album recorded in 1971. It might never be all over the radio, but it is a killer tune. I think of Rival Sons when I hear the magnificent “Medicine Man”, but mostly because of the fact that I hear a lot of Free and Bad Company in Rival Sons, two bands that are all over this swinging rock killer. “Head On” is a heavy piece with its roots in the late 60’s / very early 70’s and I’m sure this will be future live killer because of its infectious groove and striking melodies. “Drive It Like You Stole It” moves in a faster pace than the rest of the album and leans more towards the 80’s and even touches metal. That suits them very well! “You Only Call Me” have a big groove and is very catchy, still with its feet in the 70’s, but in the later part of the 70’s – another live killer to be. “Heavy” is raw and makes me think of Cream although the punky attitude and distortion sends a nod to MC5. The melody is striking and even catchy which gives the song some contrast. “Temptation” is amazing, it has the 70’s foundation, but the pop melodies turns this one to a fine melodic hard rocker with a hit feel. “Rock Bottom” is a rocker with an insane groove. I hear Deep Purple Mk 3, Whitesnake and UFO and I hear a song that should count as a rock classic – hopefully it will do just that in 10 years time or so. The band end the record in the best of ways – with a big, fat party rocker. It is called “A Great Day For Rock And Roll” and rocks just like a party rocker did back when. Makes you wanna crack open a cold one and listen to the album all over again.
Wow! This really is a killer album, in my book. It has a retro sound and the 70’s is always close around the bend, but it still don’t feel old and repetitive. No, this music is fresh, alive, kicking and a breath of fresh air. One new band that I think of when I hear this album, is Vandenberg’s Moonkings, both bands have same nod to a time when everything was new and exciting and when there was no rules. And that’s just feeling I get from Colour Of Noise – they just write songs and then see where the songs take them. The musicians are all really good and Dickinson hasn’t lost any of his skills of his youth – quite the contrary, he has kept his tone and his feel, but taken a step back and lean more on the groove. The sound also feels a lot more dynamic than most of today’s albums and it seems like this record is made more for vinyl or CD than for mp3’s which gives the record a more sonic depth and no loudness war. Well done, boys and hopefully we will hear more from this lot in the future. Discover them now!
1. Can You Hear Me?
2. Can’t Take It With You
3. Medicine Man
4. Head On
5. Drive It Like You Stole It
6. You Only Call Me
9. Rock Bottom
10. A Great Day For Rock And Roll