WIDOWMAKER – Widowmaker

Jet 1976 / Angel Air 2013

High-flyers from different rocky paths of life find a heavy kind of common denominator and have a ball.

WIDOWMAKER - Widowmaker

WIDOWMAKER – Widowmaker

The best music emerges from the pleasure of playing, not commercial necessities, that’s why this unthinkable combination worked so well, although too briefly.

Steve Ellis, the most famous voice behind “Everlasting Love,” has always had a bluesy wail in his warble as Luther Grosvenor’s guitar has, even when he sprinkled MOTT THE HOOPLE glam all over his SPOOKY TOOTH edge. With spare time on their hands, the two joined forces with LINDISFARNE’s drummer Paul Nicholls and went heavy – having rounded off the line-up with bassist Bob Daisley who was biding his time in MUNGO JERRY after a CHICKEN SHACK stint and a HAWKWIND axeman Huw Lloyd-Langton. Yet here hard rock is a mere vehicle for a top-notch songwriting.

“Ain’t Telling You Nothing” swinging its instrumental pendulum wild, from slow to fast and back again, the musicians’ combination is so robust that Grosvenor reprises “When I Met You” from his solo album – in distinctly different arrangement, to which Zoot Money adds jolly piano – and pulls in a spiritual Gary Wright co-write “Shine A Light On Me,” fleshed out with a meaty organ and female backing. Elsewhere, his mandolin adorns the handclaps-abetted ballad “Leave The Kids Alone,” while Lloyd-Langton’s slide rolls along the acoustic strum of country-tinged single “Pin A Rose On Me.” Soulful sway all over it, the song fades too early, Ellis compensating for this with a delicate pull of “Straight Faced Fighter,” a contrast to the sharp funk of Daisley’s “Such A Shame,” where riffs are sparse and the vocal tension high, and to the bar-room romp of “Got A Dream” – just right to kickstart the album and sign it off.

There’s more to it, as three non-album bonus cuts showcase the band’s on-stage force but, sadly, such a power proved to be unstable, and once the frontman jumped ship, the original magic, so alluring on the quintet’s take on ELLIS’ “El Doomo” and the prophetic “Too Late,” was gone.

*****

May 20, 2013

Category(s): Reissues
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