SPV 2004 / Cleopatra 2016
It takes two to stand up: raw and kicking, heavy blues veterans begin a joint roll.
Their gravitational pull made Carmine Appice and Pat Travers’ sharing a common ground inevitable, although it took the veterans quite long to get down to business. Still, the recording of their debut surely was short, which infused the clash of the titans with immediacy but kept most of the cuts restrained by a single idea. Not that it matters when the goal is to let one’s hair down, so the molten “I Don’t Care” is as good an anthem as any raucous number, with the speedy “Keep On Rockin'” and the glam march of “Rock Me” suggesting there’s no stopping to the party.
Sharp riffs aplenty, sticks’ clicks on “Taken” set the pulse racing, and the “I’ve had my fill of prima donnas” opening line lets the world know that compromise doesn’t belong here – except for the blend of the players’ voices. Their harmonies are tight, if mellifluous, on “Better From A Distance” which is stirred with Uriah Duffy’s four-string, while another bassist, the mighty T.M. Stevens, gets on board to slap and sing on “Gotta Have Ya” before bonus tracks expand the original run. One of these, “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Barry White’s repertoire, may be the best cover Pat and Carmine have ever done, as they harden the source lyricism into something deliciously darker and deeper.
The otherwise hidden subtleties come to the surface in the acoustically driven “Hey You” – where the drummer’s vocals take centerstage – and on “Escape The Fire” only to turn to smile once “I Can’t Let You Go” is resolved into reggae. After the funk of “Stand Up” has been beefed up with Hammond, the groove finally becomes the album’s subject matter, a shift making the veterans’ collaboration very successful. A few more albums would follow, so the start proved to be really good.