Thursday, 9 May 2019

Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie (2014)


Released June 2014

I am not a "proper" Rival Sons fan. I think I was "recommended" them on a streaming service. I have listened to "Feral Roots" and this album. So, my comments are not particularly informed. Neither am I, at sixty years old, part of their contemporary fanbase. What I do, however, is recognise many of the influences that have, in my opinion, played a part in the creation of their music. There are loads of influences at play here, but that doesn't mean they lack their own identity. They seem to have managed to merge their own style with clear hints of the past, which, for me, is an attractive thing.


1. Electric Man
2. Good Luck
3. Secret
4. Play The Fool
5. Good Things
6. Open My Eyes
7. Rich And The Poor
8. Belle Star
9. Where've I Been
10. Destination On Course                            

"Electric Man" is a barnstorming monster of an opener, with a sledgehammer bass line that will rattle your walls. "Good Luck", in contrast, has a deceptively melodic and infectious bass on the verses and a Small Faces-style sixties-influenced vocal on the same parts. The guitar at the end is searing and the whole electric power of it all brings to mind Neil Young and Crazy Horse on some of their live albums. They say that Rival Sons are great live. Listening to this you can understand why. "Secret" starts with a positively Deep Purple-esque riff and accompanying madcap organ. The vocal is unique in its own right. The bit where the vocal, bass and drums interplay comes in about 3:20 is awesome.

"Play The Fool" starts with a Led Zeppelin-inspired riff, but also develops in its own right with an addictive drum-driven rhythm. There is also something of blues rockers Vintage Trouble about this one. "Good Things" is an intoxicating, atmospheric and slightly swamp blues-ish track. It also has a very Doors-influenced organ/guitar/drum bit three and a bit minutes in. "Open My Eyes" has a typical heavy rock chorus but the track is enhanced by some delicious acoustic parts lurking beneath the full-on riffy attack.

"Rich And The Poor" is a surprisingly subtle track, full of rhythmic percussion and a delicious bass. "Belle Star" is full of both power and atmosphere. There is quite a lot of sixties psychedelia in here too. "Where've I Been" is a slow, bluesy number. There is a bit of Nazareth about it, and Free as well. The same can be said of the lengthy slow burn of "Destination On Course". It is a bit of a classic, though, with some great instrumental improvisation in the middle.

Of the two Rival Sons albums I have listened to, I slightly prefer this one, feeling it has more variety and subtlety in it - my opinion from a somewhat detached position.


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