Friday 9 August 2019

Roxy Blue - Roxy Blue (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 9 Aug 2019
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Sometimes it just doesn't seem like 2019! Bang Tango are touring with Faster Pussycat. I've reviewed new albums by Jetboy and Tora Tora. And now, here's the first album of new material from Roxy Blue in 27 years.

It has to be said, with hindsight, that 1992 was hardly the best year for a glam rock band to release their debut album. Nirvana had released Nevermind in 1991 and firmly ended an era. Roxy Blue's album was called Want Some? As nobody did in 1992, they vanished pretty quickly from sight. The point, of course, is that timing is far from everything. So their timing sucked. That doesn't mean that they didn't turn out a pretty damn good album. I still have mine on CD and going back to it reminded me just how fantastic songs like Sister Sister were.

Now, almost three decades on, Roxy Blue are back to kick it up a couple of notches. Modern production values are part of it, but this is ten times as in your face as Want Some? from moment one. The cover is so minimalist as to feel like a manifesto: it's just the band's old logo but on battered steel, with the lip imprint and stars intact. It screams down and dirty glam rock and that's exactly what is. These guys may not be young and pretty any more but they still know how to kick ass and it does feel like they have a real hunger for it that 27 years not touring might just prompt.

Silver Lining and Rockstar Junkie are both in your face songs to kick this off. They're downtuned but upbeat. The guitars have a tough tone, like they want blood and they want it now. The melodies have a husky delivery, as if Todd Poole's vocal cords have been doused in a bottle of Jack for every day of that 27 year gap. Everything about the production is dirty where, in the glam rock heyday, it would have been sleazy. As a song, Rockstar Junkie has the chops to have been on Too Fast for Love, but not with this production. This is like Godsmack covering that in 2002 and that's most of this album.

And I really couldn't get very far from comparisons to more modern American music. Scream, with its grungy guitar tone, vocal effects and alternative filters, could have been recorded by any number of crappy nu metal bands if only they had more than that tone to go on. Collide often feels like it's a country song rather than a ballad, but it's so gritty that it would infect the Grand Ole Opry with something distinctly unsavoury. On Outta the Blue, Poole may well have screamed it through a metal pipe from the next warehouse over, but the guitars never lose that bouncy glam mindset even under thirty shades of rust.

And that's what makes this work. Whatever contemporary sound they're trying to emulate, they still rock. They feel like they're going to take any local bar apart and kick the ass of everyone there, while those big names wouldn't be seen dead in places like that. That sort of gig is beneath them. I don't think Roxy Blue care. They just want to rip it up again and they do, with a host of hints at where they came from in the songs. I heard some Kashmir in Blinders and there's plenty of On the Road Again in Til the Well Runs Dry.

Welcome back, folks. Times have changed. Good music hasn't.

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