The last hurray from an embodiment of contemporary rockabilly and his timeless partner-in-crime.
It’s not too often that a British guitarist becomes a perfect foil for American artists yet it does happen. Such a permanent presence has been kept for years by Chris Spedding who joined forces with singer Robert Gordon to work together, on and off, for longer than four decades. But while the two veterans spend much more time on-stage than in the studio, they amassed enough unreleased material to issue an entire album of these – soon after the vocalist passed away. So what was planned as a pit-stop turned into a not-too-sad goodbye. Featuring a smattering of covers among the pair’s original pieces – penned separately – the record’s tracks include a few co-writes with former BLUE ÖYSTER CULT drummer Albert Bouchard, and the results of their labor are punchy to say the least.
In hindsight, the booming, if nuanced and catchy, opener “One Day Left” seems to suggest Robert and Chris knew it would be their last-ever offering, yet there’s a sly hope in the song. Besides, by combining youthful energy with effortlessness, which only decades of plying one’s trade can enforce, the two friends defy this notion and demonstrate fine fettle, and humor, even on the bluesy numbers like “Please Don’t” – where acoustic strum and slider create a gravity-possessed ground to roll a voice on – rendering the platter’s pull irresistible. So when “Middle Of The Night” and the duo’s take on “Have I The Right” – the exciting throb of the riff-driven former featuring Anton Fig and Tony Garnier as a mighty rhythm section – bare their rumble, “Signs Of Love” reveals a pop-coated refrain, and the piano-laden, patina-smeared reading of “I’ll Make It Right” ruffles the fiber of eternity, said hope will get enshrouded in a guilty pleasure.
It’s difficult to ignore the retrofuturistic magnetism of “I Saw A Smile” in which hefty six-string figures are set against Farfisa-esque ripple or the twang of “Don’t Let Go” with its Diddley beat, but the infectious melody and brisk delivery of “Girl Like You” surpasses them in cosmic terms, and the resonant rock ‘n’ rolling of “Please Don’t Touch” – an echo of sorts of one of the aforementioned cuts – firmly fixes this in place to linger on once the album’s finished. Of course, there’s immense poignancy in the duo’s handling of “You Don’t Know What You Got” that can make the listener mourn Gordon again and again, yet Spedding’s propelling of his buddy’s vibe on “Believe What You Say” should bring joy to everybody. A bittersweet farewell, “Hellafied” is most welcome.