Monday, 23 August 2010
J Roddy Walston & The Business - Self Titled (Vagrant)
The scene on the album cover of ‘J. Roddy Walston and The Business’ could easily be a trashed hotel room taken from the set of Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’, a space full of symbols of the counter cultural ethos that permeated the riffs and rasps of musicians who plodded out their wares across rain lashed Woodstocks and seedy saloons in beat-up backstreets. This mentality and mindset are almost extinct in 2010, replaced by clean-cut suits, up-market bars, boutique festivals and a steady but sure movement away from genuinely soulful rock and roll. Yet here comes J Roddy Walston and The Business, spawning a wondrous throwback to 70s with true blue-eyed rock and roll, dive bars and flung beer bottles on their self-titled debut record.
Walston, the heart, soul and instigator of the band, has been at this for over a decade, piling through line-up changes in the early years, gaining some reputation as a party band in the Nashville scene. The very next party I am lucky enough to host, attend or gatecrash, I vow to find some way to throw this into the play list and hope it will end up in some form of chaotic, limb-flinging throw down (also known as the perfect party).
J Roddy Walston flings every influence that comes his way into the melting pot of music manufactured by the band, including a hint of gospel, even if just in the holy spirited essence that fuses itself to the albums ethos (whether that spirit is divine or Jack Daniels is very much up for debate). His family was a Southern churchgoing collective where musical hoe downs came thick and fast and you can feel the riotous shindig atmosphere building in the nooks and crannies of the instrumental howling.
‘Brave Man’s Death’ is some form of rock ballad with a delicious hook-laden core that weeps its way through a Southern folk story. The plink plonk of ‘Caroline’ resembles an American Elton John before devolving into the odd flash of heavy guitar slide and wonderfully crashing drums. The rasp and eventual breakdown on ‘Full Growing Man’ is as good as any 70s iconic caterwauling rock smash, stumbling from ‘Fortunate Son’ to ‘Tuesday’s Gone’.
The riffs, screams and punches that this record emits are echoes of so many 70s stereotypes but the sheer aggression and spirit more than makes up for any thought of this being outdated. Music is such a force that when it’s made as well and as passionately as this, the notion of uncool or old-fashioned is absolutely obsolete. Who cares where and when it comes from if it sounds this damn exciting?
There is the major issue that if you never became a fan of the blue eyed, rock and roll stylings that burst forth in the 50s and 70s, then this could be a major flop with its sentiment and approach so very modelled after such a sound. Be that as it may, say you don’t enjoy the sheer bollocks out rock that is peddled here and I will question your brain and proceed throw a beer bottle at your face, turn this record up to 11 and start a bar-room brawl to prove my point.
Words : Adam Parker