Rock ‘n’ roll is dead? Well nobody told Little Barrie and they are on top form here with their third album King of the Waves. Reuniting with the mighty Edwyn Collins –who has collaborated and produced the record – this is also the first album to feature Virgil Howe (yep – son of legendary Yes guitarist Steve) on the drums. Kind of a big deal in Japan – where they have full blown ‘Barriemania’ (or so I’m told) – this record blends together the bluesey rock ‘n’ roll with a soulful swagger.
Opener ‘Surf Hell’ gets off with a dirty riff that pulsates throughout the whole song, only to be intersected by an infectious chorus. The record feels very much like it belongs in the ’60s, where ‘How Come’ sounds like it would be very much at home, with Barrie Cadogan’s vocals on top form. As the album progresses, so too does the sound; the title track drifts in and out of a stoner rock vibe as the laid back drums and guitars grind on. The album closes up on some funky-rock in ‘I Can’t Wait’, which picks up the tempo and brings in some awesome drums, leading nicely into album ender ‘Money Paper’ which has arguably the best guitar sound on the album as they rip into riffs and grumble through a chorus.
Some tracks do lose their way, ‘Precious Pressure’ is almost garage-funk, in the vain of Primal Scream. It’s one of the barest tracks on the album but it doesn’t seem to bring much to the record. The tracks are generally 3-4 minutes long throughout which is the perfect length for their sound and this is possibly highlighted by ‘Tip It Over’ which is a tad longer – but once you get to that end, it’s a rather awesome crash of drums and guitars. If only they wouldn’t wait so long to get there.
There is not much else you could have expected from this trio; they are rock ‘n’ roll. However there are other influences that drift in and out here and that’s what keeps them interesting. Many bands have fallen flat on their faces trying to do what Little Barrie are doing and it’s testament to their versatile blues rock sound that they are not one of them.
There are some tracks that don’t work, but there are more that do on this solid record.
Play it loud in your car with the roof down (or windows if you don’t have a swish convertible), it deserves it.