Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cheetah Chrome. Solo.

Cheetah Chrome.  Solo.
Plowboy Records, 2013.  Cheetah Chrome:

Cheetah Chrome is getting near 60, but that doesn’t matter.  He’s been on themusic scene in Cleveland, then New York, now Nashville, for decades, and was the guitarist for Rocket from the Tombs (originally, and now), and the Dead Boys.  That’s cool and I love those bands, but it doesn’t matter.  What matters is what he’s doing now, and that is an EP.  He’s also got a new movie about CBGB, the New York club, and this is supposed to tie into that.  The tracks on this EP are a combination of newly recorded stuff with some from the vault, recorded in 1996.  That’s why there are so many musicians for an album titled Solo.

Whatever decade he recorded the music in, the album is fantastic.  I cannot believe that stuff this good is still around in the age of, well, you can see the Grammy Awards and decide for yourself.  While you can tell which tracks were from the 90s, since they have a different sound, the songs all fit together in a nice package.  You can hear a little Cleveland in “Stare into the Night,” “No Credit,” and “Nuthin’,” a Midwest punk vibe that’s really sweet on the ears, even though they were recorded in Woodstock, New York, and produced by Genya Ravan (anybody remember Ten Wheel Drive?).  Everything else was recorded more recently in Nashville.  Chrome starts off with an almost solo instrumental (Coomer is on drums), “Sharky,” with a 60s surf music vibe combined with great guitar riffs, but dominated by the organ.  I love it.  On the other three songs Chrome shares guitar duties with Sylvain, and Sylvain plays lead on the last tune, “Love Song to Death.”  “East Side Story” sounds like a cross between Cleveland and Springsteen, not a bad combo.  “Rollin’ Voodoo is percussion heavy and bluesy, with distorted vocals and thrashing guitars.  The closer puts it all in perspective with lyrics that are simultaneously powerful but dejected, and an exquisite guitar solo.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this album, except that it’s too short.  Please make more, Mr. Chrome.  It’s good to hear you again.

Personnel:  Cheetah Chrome (guitars, vocals, organ), Ken Coomer (drums, percussion), Sylvain Sylvain (guitar), Sean Koos (bass, piano), Lez Warner (drums), Jimmy V. (guitar), Greg Walker (bass), Johnny Albamont (drums).
Tracks:  Sharky, East Side Story, Rollin’ Voodoo, Stare into the Night, No Credit, Nuthin’, Love Song to Death.

Ron Yoyek

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