Roadhouse CB2


Root-rockers roar back with a classic

Roadhouse’s music has always been different, country-rock, heading into roots and blues, with a dark, cinematic world view, the still back routes of America laced with the dirtier back streets of London. This is the band’s 11th album and is the pinnacle of their achievements, rumbling, roaring and screaming in pain while never losing track of the country undertones.

Under the leadership of guitarist/singer/songwriter Gary Boner, the band have been constantly pushing back the boundaries, and from the opening ringing tones of Too Tired To Pray you’re in the Roadhouse world. There are few such bands who can get away with expansive pieces, but such is Roadhouse’s mastery that the eight minutes of the majestic title track seem normal.

The album’s success is in part due to Boner’s growing maturity as a writer, part of it is the band’s latest in a long line of lead guitarists, Danny Gwilym, whose playing takes things to a new level. There’s an inventive, rich, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll warmth, but there’s also the air of an early Clapton; imagine Cream playing in a roadhouse. Boner’s chugging, jangling rhythm is incessant and the solid rhythm section of Roger Hunt (drums) and Bill Hobley (bass) is still there from the very beginning is still there. The band’s unusual vocal approach is still there, too, a trio of female singers (Mandie G, Kellie Marie Hobbs, Suzi D) who at one moment appear to be adding backing to Boner, then switch to a lead harmony, then solo lead. The constant changes create an ensemble feel, rather like the Band where the boundaries of lead vocals were forever blurred.

Of the tracks, Boner’s Working Class Gospel Drinking Blues is a favourite (with Gwilym’s gut-wrenching lead guitar), but there are lighter numbers such as So Over You, co-written with Gwilym and Hobbs. A classic.

Nick Dalton