RED LIGHT FEVER by Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders
Sometimes it is a pleasant surprise when a thing exceeds your expectations. Like when you go on a night out in the company of people you can’t be arsed with but find you have a great night, or when the dinner proffered on you looks horrible but tastes magic and in Red Light Fever by Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders I was bowled over by just how good the album is.
The CD was one of those in-the-queue-to-pay-for-other-stuff-and-noticed-this-for-£3 purchases. In Fopp, in Edinburgh. The thing is I was attracted purely on the basis of Hawkins’ association with the Foo Fighters, obviously. Having heard him sing on Cold Day In The Sun, I was already aware Hawkins could chant at least a wee bit.
In Red Light Fever he steps out of the shadow of Dave Grohl for a couple of seconds, and does so with the help of Roger Taylor, Brian May and of course, Grohl himself.
The songs immediately evoke memories of 70s UK rock, and throughout there is a genial triumvirate of Californian rock, modern production and the aforementioned 70s sound giving Red Light Fever a feelgood, yet heavy sound.
The influence of Taylor and May is clear. May’s unique guitar sound can be heard chugging away on a few tracks but it is the Queen-esque vocal harmonies that advertise the duo’s presence most. These are in play from the opening track Not Bad Luck to the fantastic finisher I Don’t Think I Trust You Anymore.
Certainly this is not as heavy as the recent Foos work, most likely a result of Hawkins’ Californian disposition. All through the album there are signs of restraint, good restraint at that, and when the band let go it is worthwhile. Songs like James Gang turn up the distortion a notch but as if guilty at such excess, the acoustic guitar led Don’t Have To Speak follows and settles everyone back down.
Much of the work on the album has me thinking this is what would happen if the Beach Boys had merged with Deep Purple, or indeed, is how Kelley Stoltz would sound if he had been allowed to grow his hair as a child.
Recommended Tracks: I Don’t Think I Trust You Anymore, Sunshine, James Gang, Don’t Have To Speak, Not Bad Luck
James A. Stewart