Veteran guitar-slinger embarks on a roller-coaster ride through his past to bring its vibe – and his friends – into the present.
There’s much more strings to Chris Spedding’s bow than to his fretboard, so one needs not to fret about this artist’s attempt at embracing the latter-day trend of having heavy guests on his solo record. Spedding played with most of them at various stages of his 5-decade-long career, and here are both bond and integrity on display which serves Chris’ tentative idea of creating a concept album. A master of pop tension, his songs don’t require extra embellishment, as the infectious finale of “Boom Shakka Boom” proves, leaving the listener with a fantastic aftertaste, albeit it takes Arthur Brown’s wailing presence to ram the riffy point of “Now You See It” home. Only the home is an amusement park now.
It’s down there that the guitarist meets his former SHARKS pals Andy Fraser, whose bouncy bass rumbles through the “Shock Treatment” sleaze, and Snips, or Steve Parsons, who wrote the jittery, nightmarish “Go Down South” for Chris to roar, yet the first voice to cut through the finger work comes from Ian McShane, inviting everyone to stay inside such an entertaining hell for ever. And why not, really, if this madhouse offers so much fun? But, of course, every dreamhome hides a heartache, which Bryan Ferry serves in spades in a swamp blues of “Gun Shaft City” – full of threatening drone and spectral handclaps, while Johnny Marr helps the host enshroud “Heisenberg” in a cloud of dust for the faux flamenco to perfectly capture the feel of a ghost town.
It might be a “Breaking Bad” scenario, yet Werner Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty principle, and this kind of fog hangs over “I Still Love You” where Robert Gordon booms a ballad to the romantic backing of scintillatingly sustained strum and female vocals; more so, there’s a special female part, as a lady called Lane and Chris deliver a duo in “I’m Your Sin” over countrified harmonies. But before that, signalling a soul food time, Glen Matlock – Spedding’s ex-client in SEX PISTOLS and a colleague in KING MOB – spices the taut twang of “Cafe Racer” with a four-string undertow, and it’s difficult to resist “The Pied Piper” whose gravelly allure is flute-finessed by another ROXY MUSIC member, Andy Mackay. Parsons gets down with a rockabilly “Message For Stella” but its swing fails to remove the sense of foreboding, so there’s a suspicion that the “wherever the hell you are?” line runs straight to the underworld, and we witness the Devil himself shake his tail and spin his tale at the groovy end.
Here’s a trip worth taking – for the sheer thrill of it all!
Read the interview here.