WKW Music 2020
Between BIG COUNTRY and the USA, unbreakable spirits rock hard and mighty, with a smirk and a smile.
“The call of the steel that would never stop”: when Bruce Watson’s old band sang these words back in 1984, he didn’t realize how true they would ring three and a half decades down the line. “Men Of Steel” is the debut album by the Dunfermline artist’s latter-day endeavor, an extension of what he did with both BC in the early ’80s and with son Jamie on “Another Anthem For The Damned” in 2010, but with creative input from American über-aficionado, the documentary editor Thomas Kercheval – hence the acronym WKW – who contacted the veteran in order to get a review and ended up writing and remotely recording with the Scottish team. The trio’s inaugural EP “Hands Across The Ocean” proved potent and crowdfunding campaign successful, so the emergence of a full-length platter was only a matter of time…
…and time, or rather life, is the main theme of this belligerent offering where freshly cut familiar tracks rub shoulders with new numbers, as the three guitarists trade licks and vocals and, somewhat reservedly, raise hell. Despite delving in tradition for “Killiecrankie” – given a sharp riff and a sweet twirl – they don’t try to revisit the past, so the acerbic “The River Stays The Same” says as much, because there’s youthful energy oozing out of songs such as opener “Edison’s Last Stand” which is chugging from punk into the future, while the Celtic-tinctured “Seven Swords” marries anti-war anger to a mighty groove, all wrapped in scintillating instrumental interplay. The cinematic “Rose Red Sunset” and classic “Troubled Man” may bare the band’s soft, if well-armored, underbelly and their propensity for expansive tune, Stuart Adamson’s old demo “Nationwide” – brought to life with the spanking help from SKIDS’ original bassist Bill Simpson – has prickly bristles all over its short span.
Kercheval’s drums propelling Bruce and Jamie’s voices to the edge of delirium here and on the fiddle-flaunting “Smoulder” that’s as defiantly translucent as it is heavy rocking, the little ensemble leave their most powerful blow for the finale. There, “Lay The Coin” unfolds a S.O.S.-signaling intro into an infectious reggae-tagged epic – and allows the “Now the man of steel has finally cracked the code” line circle back to the beginning of Watson’s march to eternity. When the trio meet face-to-face and pen more originals, WKW’s second album won’t need to ask for the coin: the fans should come in flocks to pay and grab such riches.