Holding All the Roses
It’s Only Rock and Roll; and I Love It!
I first ‘discovered’ Blackberry Smoke a few years ago via a giveaway VA CD on a magazine; subsequently a friend made me a ‘Best Of’ CD which I liked; but because of the amount of albums I receive every week I never got around to following it up. Then Mr. Postman arrived with this package on Tuesday and suddenly I was 15 again!
My version of Holding All the Roses is the Deluxe Version which is being released to coincide with a European Tour; but don’t get too despondent as the additional Acoustic tracks are available on several Interweb sites.
Channelling their finest Sticky Fingers period Rolling Stones guitar licks; Blackberry Smoke kick start the album with the stomping Let Me Help You (Find The Door) and I was immediately tapping my feet and head-banging within 30 seconds.
Three or four songs later we get the finest slice of Southern Boogie I’ve heard since Bad Motor Scooter or maybe Gimmee Back My Bullets. She Made Me Rock & Roll Again is an absolute joy from start to finish and the X-Rated video will make hormonal young men pop their zits with excitement.
If you even vaguely like Bar-room Boogie, as I do you will love Wish in One Hand and later Payback’s a Bitch; which is a helluva tale full of dirty guitar chops and a bass line that will have experts checking seismometers.
Not everything here is foot to the floor Rock & Roll Boogie as straight out of leftfield and hidden in the middle, is a short but exquisite instrumental called Randolph County Farewell. Alongside that are a couple of slower acoustic ballads; proving once and for all these boys are expert musicians and not just long haired layabouts (as if!). No Way Back From Eden is as sweet as a Georgia peach and Too High is a contender for my favourite track here.
That title actually goes to the title track Holding All The Roses which ticks every box imaginable for American Rock and Roll; perfect for driving AND drinking too; preferably not at the same time though.
If we jump back a couple of tracks there’s a song that could easily become the Blackberry Smoke theme tune; Living in the Song; with it’s chorus that is just perfect for a drunken sin-along.
The original album closes with more crashing guitars on the bountiful Fire in the Hole; which again invokes the spirit of the Stones (when anyone cared about them), Lynard Skynard in their Glory Days and the best of all those One Hit Wonders who stole our hearts on OGWT but never returned until they had fat bellies and no new records to promote.
Then we come to the ‘Deluxe’ Acoustic additions.
Five tracks are revisited, and in my humble opinion; I’d have been more than happy hearing the full album in this mode as with Too High and Woman in the Moon Blackberry Smoke sound like the very best of acts that are deemed Americana and being hailed from the rooftops.
Let Me Help You (Find The Door) stays as a Country-Rocker; but possibly comes across even cooler than the original.
Then the package closes with Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards) played out on what sounds like a Resonator and hushed bass and drums; and sounds nothing like anything I’ve heard from Blackberry Smoke before; but I put it straight into my ‘Acoustica’ playlist on my iPhone, where it sits alongside the likes of Dylan, Tom Russell and Mary Chapin Carpenter, among others and certainly doesn’t sound out of place.
So Blackberry Smoke have given us an excellent new album and with this version they prove they sure ain’t one-trick ponies.