I have always been a fan of Ricky Warwick’s particular type or ruff gruff rock and roll. My love of the band that brought him to the world stage The All Loud All Wild All Chuffin’ Mighty is well documented. His solo work has featured here too and I’ve extolled the virtues of that big-honest-no-messing-about-rock and roll road map stuff. Acca Dacca to ZZ-Top via Lemmy, Iggy and Cooper. I’ve seen him fill Phil Lynott’s boots playing the finest selections from one of the greatest discographies Rock And Roll has to offer as the new front man of Thin Lizzy (not sure new is the right word. He’s been doing it 20 years). And I’ve seen him re-ignite the band into writing new material and expanding their sound as Black Star Riders.
He’s back again (again) with a new album. An expansive non-expensive new album that features down the line rock and roll tracks with titles like Gunslinger, Still Alive, Never Corner A Rat and Fighting Heart (the key song in his other other band Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts) They’re all great examples of the constituent parts required to make a successful rock song being an idea, a riff, a beat and a RAWK voice. Still Alive calls out to a venue of thrashing bodies for a response on the chorus, Gunslinger throws shapes in a blues riff against a spotlight on the back curtain. Never Corner A Rat seethes and threatens even before you’ve heard the lyrics and Fighting Heart makes you want to drive around in a convertible in mirrored shades (as if I weren’t already, YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE!)
The albums title is When Life Was Hard And Fast. It’s kind of a throwback to the bye gone era of big haired big rock bigness. It’s also timeless and entirely welcome in 2021. Not just as a reminder of rock and roll’s fun side but also as a new release of earworm hooks and riffs. You’re My Rock ‘N’ Roll is Ricky paying one of the greatest compliments that can be made. From the telephone call trickery at the beginning of the track making a low key re-incantation of Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod to the 50’s rockabilly guitar line it hold front and center Rick paints from a classic palate with no shocks to the system a brand new hymn.
Around the half way mark on the album we get through to the expansive part of the record. Suddenly Ricky stops remoulding new shapes from the old clay and he throws out a grizzled acoustic sing along on an old karaoke classic. You Spin Me Right Round. The one Dead Or Alive had a hit with in the 80’s. I looked down at the playlist. He is covering Britney Spears now. It’s turned into a traditional house party (With Guitars!). Then another one. Then another. We’re getting the Dublin version of No Fun Mondays all of a sudden. This covers album is called Stairwell Troubadour and it comes as the second disc on the digipack CD. He’s doing Johnny Cash’s Cocaine Blues, a track I never heard by The Bottle Rockets called 1000 Dollar Car. I love it. There’s Di’Anno era Iron Maiden, songs The Clash covered. Then Eddie Cochran gets covered. I’m singing along like I’m sat on the sofa using empty bottles as percussion. He covers that old Almighty classic then Tom Waits via The Ramones and he still manages to find room for Elvis
Ricky Warwick knows rock and roll is supposed to be fun. He also knows it sounds best hard and fast.