With their catchy head banging compulsive choruses, sweet as honey-trap guitar licks, and piping hot lead guitar breaks with vocals that gasp for air due to their hi-octane dependency – Four Wheel Drive put on one hell of a live show. So I expected nothing less from their new album “High Roller” – produced by Misha Nikolic at Monster Track. (Half Ton Records). And I was not disappointed. With production as slick as the suntan oil found on the damp smooth parts of a Texan sports-illustrated swim-wear model, this exuberant offering is drenched in tequila, whiffs of marlboro smoke and is as taut and as tempting as a showgirls G-string.
From the first track, ‘White Lines’ (for me the stand-out track on this recording) with its backdrop of crisp ‘n crunchy rhythms and croaking charcoal vocals, this album springs to life with the kind of vitality you thought was lost back in 1980.
These boys seem to have time travelled here from the Bon Scott era – but that is no bad thing. ‘Cos back then we got treble the excitement, a pressure cooker of rock n roll antics and music as hot as a hookers hosiery. It is about time we reinvested some of our latent energy into supporting and backing this kinda pure and simple rock and roll.
‘Blood on the Walls’ is another wheezing rasping romp from the feelgood southernmost-point of the 4WD catalogue of rock. This song is a hot-tub of hoochie-coochie tension and you call feel the warm Dixieland sun smiling through each high-note. ‘High Roller’ encompasses startling cascades of percussion from Will and some shrieking vocals from Jamie – that are stretched as tight and as dangerous as a nervous holdup man’s stocking mask. This is one of their many AC/DC sounding tracks – a real motoring, hammering song that rivets home its message deep into your skull.
‘The Visions Gone’ was created with short brisk brush-strokes and has those bar-room blackjack stubbly lyrics and swaggering sneering cocksure vocals you’d expect in that kinda low-down dirty dive. ‘The Game’ has the trills and juicy jolts of jostling guitar chords enlightened by lyrical lead guitar, and also embracing some embroidered work by rhythm guitar and percussion.
This is the first of a few Stonesy tracks from the 1970’s.
‘Six Foot Poster’ is old style rock n roll with a boogie sounding cheese-board of bite sized flavoursome bits n pieces. ‘Big Fat and Ugly’ has an enduring bass led background, rumpy dumpy thumpy bass-lines and some powerfully expressive moments. ‘ Rough around the Edges ‘ also sounds like Rolling Stones (circa ‘Tumbling Dice’ era) with counterpoints of puncturing sweet high notes against a compelling backdrop of thrumming chords.
‘Take a Drag’ takes you further back into rock n roll history with some dog-eared Eddie Cochranesque old-time rock n roll including some gee-tar licks that even Chuck Berry would approve of.
‘Time to Go’ is another of my favourites. Tight as a Vegas strippers garter this one, with luminous lead, timely harmonic twists, and even a harmonica break. And this song incorporates a classy twin guitar tournament. This is one helluva tune . “Roll up ladies and gentlemen it is time to go… ” and tickets for this rock n roll groove train are up for grabs.
If I had any criticisms of the album they would be few. This is an exuberant offering and at times the execution is tantalising. Perhaps there is nothing crucial here. Furthermore, it could do with a few big fat slabs of chiming guitar in places and some even more memorable riffs. And, alas, that fine rumbling-tumbling percussion heard on the ‘High Roller’ track is not found elsewhere.
But HIGH ROLLER is feelgood, red-flamed, hot-blooded unashamed rock n roll. And about as good as it gets.
Download the High Roller Album now for just £6:99
Blood On The Walls
The Vision’s Gone
Six Foot Poster
Big Fat and Ugly
Rough Around The Edges
Take A Drag
Time to go
Produced by: Misha Nikolic
Half Ton records 2009
All compositions: Lailey / Austwick