By: Dennis Cook
Anyone who's ever worn out a copy of the Stones' It's Only Rock & Roll or The Black Crowes' Shake Your Moneymaker is going to find LOTS to love on Lions In The Street's self-titled full-length debut. Slinking in on a beautifully ramshackle riff worthy of Mick & Keith at their sticky fingered best, opener "Moving Along" is fire-eyed, menacing, and dead sexy. You just know they're no good for you before the chorus but linger to have coffee with them the next morning because they're that irresistible.
This is rock with a direct line back to the nasty blues, jump tunes, and country boogie that birthed the whole damn genre. Untamed, direct, and bristling with hairy masculinity, Lions In The Street play rock like the cause it is…that is when you do it right. "All you gotta do is tow the line/ All you gotta do is not be wrong," they caution just seconds before exploding in a fab display of ill behaved jamming culminating in the pronouncement, "You'll never get me to play this game anymore!" Playing nice is for cubicle workers, and Vancouver's Lions happily strap on the mantle handed down by Little Richard, the Robinson Brothers, etc.
And like the best of their ancestors, they know how to swing hard AND soft, with killer mid-tempo ballads breaking up the pedal-to-the-floorboard enthusiasm infusing much of this debut. "Lady Blue" is a wounded man's cry that'd slot in nicely on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. They fly fast, caught up in a groove that's seized them, on "Waiting For A Woman" and "You're Gonna Lose," but then just as convincingly offer up quality bar stool honky tonk on "All Because of You." The re-recorded version of "Already Gone," which appeared on their tantalizing free EP a couple years back, shows their evolution in miniature, where now they ease off the gas for carefully restrained pockets that make the whole song shiver. This set is so damn enjoyable, but it also feels like only the opening salvo of a group determined to leave a lasting impression.
The classic rock touchstone they most recall is the Faces, where wildness and smart control wrestle inside their music, a full throated, perfectly reckless singer saturated with soul right out front as the piano shakes, guitars sting and weave, and the beat goes on and on. Rod, Ronnie, and the rest of those liquored up should-have-been-kings would be dead proud to have produced this grand slab. The songwriting is primo, gut-level gold, the execution even better, and the production clean – the sound of a pure rock 'n' roll beast on the prowl.
JamBase | Sweet Spot
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