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Four Wheel Drive – High Roller – Album Review

Four Wheel Drive

High Roller

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.

© Neil_Mach
February 2010
Download the High Roller Album now for just £6:99

——————-

Tracks:

White Lines
Blood On The Walls
High Roller
The Vision’s Gone
The Game
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

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/4wdtheband

http://www.fourwheeldriverock.com/

http://www.monstertraxstudio.com/

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Four Wheel Drive, Hard Rock Hell – Part 2

Four Wheel Drive

Blessings

Four Wheel Drive at Hard Rock Hell III – Prestatyn North Wales-
Part 2

I worry about Danny (the singer from Tribal Law) all night. I worry about  4WD missing their chance for glory.  First thing in the morning I go down to see the Hard Rock Hell management.  They say they have been inundated with fans coming up asking about Four Wheel Drive. They confirm to me that 4WD will go on. The band will play at the end of the ‘day’ on the Old Skool NWOBHM Stage  – They will have a slot right at the end of the afternoon on this (smaller) stage set in the Queen Victoria pub (within the camp.) They will go on after the likes of Dumpys Rust Nuts and Hammerhead etc. It is not a grand stage.  It is not even a great setting. But it’s gonna be just right …. just right because those other old skool bands will warm up the crowd in all the right places. And what about Danny from Tribal Law?  “No news” says the man …. “But I hear he is OK”.

So we wait till the end of the ‘day’ for Four Wheel Drive.  We pass the time with the bands like Kingston’s Pig Iron (amazing Southern style raw metal) and Girlschool, Glitterati and Tigertailz.  Then we move into the Queen Vic ‘pub’ which is heaving with hot sweaty rock luvvas grinding to the sounds of Hammerhead.  For a few anxious moments it looks like Hammerhead don’t wanna relinquish the stage to the ‘new’ boys – Four Wheel Drive.  Paddy and Ben are standing at the back of the stage with sullen expressions upon their faces – well it is understandable,  this is their second day without booze ! God love ‘em.   But, anyway,  the stage manager (a rather short man wearing a cap that is too large for him and comedy eye-wear) finally tells old-timers Hammerhead to ‘F** Off’ and ushers on our hard working rock heroes…

The hairy festival poet introduces our boys and makes reference to their latest album.  He gives ’em a good, solid warm up and even goes some way to explaining why their gig had been postponed from the previous night.

For a few moments I thought that the crowd of NWOBHM die-hard fans would wander off from the area, but 4WD caught ‘em with an amazingly electrifying opening that cleared the way for a stupendous set.   Hooray!  Four Wheel Drive had finally made it. They had got to the zone before the zone had got to them…

The band’s balls-out Rock N’ Roll ‘attitude’ has accelerated considerably since the last times I caught ‘em live.  They are now less Southern Rockin in sound and stature and instead play a harder variety of rock / heavy metal. Yes, the Southern blues influences are still there but now the sound is brasher, bolder,  more self-assured.   Their’s is now mainstream variety rock, fit to fill stadiums – think the Australian rockers Airbourne to get an idea.

Paddy and Ben, stripped to the waist, played intertwining guitar solo arrangements and brazenly brash chords with flare and finesse and the excitement was truly raw and unpretentious. Will played Herculean drums with pride and pomposity, beating out the rhythm until the fragile walls of the pub began to tremble in sympathy.  The crowd roared with delight as the band ladled out the hits like ‘White Lines’  and ‘High Roller’.

The spectacle and the sheer brute force of this band were more than the ears (or eyes) could behold. Yet the Hard Rock Hell punters were screaming for more. As I looked around the venue I realised that scores more rockers were filing into the venue from next door (Stage 2) – which I assume was hosting Witchfynde.

The best man of the day, however, was – for me – the 4WD front man and bassist Jamie. He stands out like a tall icon of common sense and propriety in between the berserk frizzy mopped guitar twins. He holds his guitar high and shakes his black locks. His voice is so large it should come with its own planning application stapled to the front of the speaker boxes.  His voice adds another huge layer to the crisp sounds and textures going on in a flurry of activity around him. This band is so great and the sounds are so enriching, that you want to jump, jive and jig for joy.

In the latter stages of the incredible set, as Jamie introduced the band to the rapturous crowd and thanked Total Rock Radio and Hard Rock Hell for the opportunity to play the festival he also took out time to mention Tribal Law.  A shriek and claps rose up from the crowd. Everyone looked around to see where the gleeful noise was coming from.  “He is here …. He is here” a female voice squeals out.  Standing at the back of the crowd, hidden by a glass panel, was none other than Danny the lead singer from Tribal Law.  He had made ‘a full recovery’ and was watching Four Wheel Drive play their show.

After all that we had been through – that was truly the final blessing!

© Neil_Mach

December 2009

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/4wdtheband

The news item about the collapse of Tribal Law lead singer Danny Adams:

http://www.rockradio.co.uk/rock-news/singer-collapses-on-hard-rock-hell-stage/fzyc3rry/

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Four Wheel Drive, Hard Rock Hell, Prestatyn

Danny - Tribal Law

Outrageous Fortune

Part one – Hard Rock Hell – Prestatyn

Imagine the pressure and the pain . . .  Our plucky high-rollin’ heroes are up in North Wales, Prestatyn to be exact, for the Hard Rock Hell III – for the gig of their lives.  They arrive early morning to find that the official 4WD T-shirt is proudly displayed in the Merch shop alongside shirts for New York  Dolls, Monster Magnet & W.A.S.P. and their concrete barrack-style ‘chalet’ is laden with gallons of booze . . .  it is rock n’ roll time and they are here to play a vast crowd on an immense stage at the biggest winterfest in the known universe. They are chosen ones and this is their moment.

On the official running order for the event the boys are shown on LAST on the Total Rock Radio big stage at 01:45am after ten more bands (on that stage) and after a heavy metal party that started the PREVIOUS AFTERNOON at 5pm.  So the stakes are high and the slots are tight….

During the day the boys wait patiently, gently floating on a sea of anticipation, excitement and nervous anticipation …. They don’t dare drink any of the moonshine in their Spartan chalet – or get involved in any fist fights or other harmful shenanigans because they need to preserve every inch of their energetic verve and spirit for their big moment yet to come.

Around Midnight the Staines’s favourite live band start to prepare religiously for their big show. They even miss seeing Monster Magnet and Sonata Arctica whilst they get ‘into the zone.’

Meanwhile the Total Rock Radio stage is being prepared for West Country southern-rock lads Tribal Law.  Soon enough these fun loving lads are bringing the burgeoning crowd to an effervescent climax with their zingy, zippy mix of twanging guitars and growling bass lines. It is all going so well that the Tribal Law lead guitarist (the Apache Koe Naiche) suggests to the lead vocalist and front-man Danny Adams that they do one more song.  The crowd is by now in a state of frenzy and is hollering for more. Danny doesn’t think so. “Stay around for the next band” he yells to the over excited crowd of rock fans “The next band is Four Wheel Drive and they are gonna blow your mind”.  The crowd erupts in cheers and applause.

Back stage the 4WD team are making their final adjustments to hair and instruments. A whole day of patient preparation and grooming is about to pay dividends.  The Tribal Law lead guitar kisses his turquoise feathers and says to the crowd and his band-mates  “Just one  more….”  Danny agrees, but with some reluctance. They start their final number, a blistering, searing bluesy finale. The crowd is going berserk.

On the final note, of the final chord, of that very final song I watch in horror as Danny, the Tribal Law lead singer suddenly and without any warning, keels over backwards onto the drum stage. He is a big lad and he goes down hard onto the cruel stage-floor. The crowd gasp.  The band chingles to a halt and band-mates Koe, Frazor Clubb and Jaymz Perry stare at the scene in disbelief. A stage manager runs over to Danny who is now laying stationary on the stage floor his head at a nasty angle against the fierce metal edge of the drum stage. I hear several members of the crowd saying “Oh God.”

“Get a medic, dial 999” shouts the stage manager to the security.  Danny is out cold and we fear the worse. He must have suffered severe concussion at a minimum – worse probably – possible life threatening injuries. Paramedics are called but they won’t take the risk of moving him… possible neck or spinal injuries. For a few agonising moments we think we have lost him.

He requires CPR and fast. This is becoming a nightmare.

The consequences of all this are that, by now, our West London Heroes 4WD are now on stage attempting to do a sound check whilst the paramedics are working on Danny. It looks grim.  Then the security decides to empty the arena.  Punters are moved slowly out.  And they are in a solemn mood.  Now all signs of fun and joy have been dashed. We wait in the big corridors outside the venue for about twenty minutes. By now Four Wheel Drive should be playing their hearts out to this big crowd.  Instead we are all waiting here in an eery silence. Another few minutes pass and a supervisor comes out to tell us the news.   The evening is over.  The party is a no-no. Four Wheel Drive are cancelled. The venue is closed. We are all told to go home.  “How is the boy who fell over?” Someone asks.  “I dunno”. Says the supervisor as he scurries off.  Shhhh…..iiiitt!

Visit here SOON for PART TWO of this story ….

If  you cannot wait for Part 2 and you wanna read the review of Four Wheel Drive’s senstational show at Sticky Fungus Staines in the meantime,  click here >>>

© Neil_Mach
December 2009

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Four Wheel Drive – Sticky Fungus, Staines 15 May

4wd_A_DSC_0180_500x

Four Wheel Drive – Sticky Fungus – 15 May 2009

I have seen this band a couple of times in bars and they were kinda underwhelming… but put that frizz and fizz on a big stage like Sticky Fungus, Staines and – KAPOW – Four Wheel Drive are sizzling sensations.

Strongly influenced by the blues of the South with its virile aggression and hard working honest-to-goodness energy, Four Wheel Drive are not really declaring musical independence or even starting their own confederacy… They just wanna have some fun playing some agreeable rock pieces to a smashed audience.

But ‘It’s not what they do, it’s the way that they do it’, that counts. On a damp Friday night in Staines town I am looking for a bag of excitement and passion. I am looking for a bit of boogie and a whole lotta woogie. And boy, this group fired me up like a stick of dynamite. If you, like me, enjoy the concept of sharing a bottle of acid-mash Tennessee liquor whilst hanging out with some unseemly can-can girls in the back-room bar of some sleazy no-good dive on Bourbon Street,  then this band is definitely for you. They put pepper in your pants…

Staines is a long way from Vicksburg, Mississippi and, in our wet world, where we experience fog, flu, fish-cakes, footie, ford fiestas and girls called Fiona we clamor for escapism. We want a dream. A desert. A cactus. A  rattlesnake. And a bit of moonshine. And that is what 4WD The Band provided for us at Sticky Fungus last night.

Distortion fuelled guitars (“Distortia” as  Rihanna would call it, whilst doing that mad thing with her hands) and rolling thunderous drums were the backdrop to Jamie Lailey’s superb ‘Brian Johnson’ style vocals.  Think of that rasping, high-pitched silver shafting energy in AC/DC songs such as  “Whole Lotta Rosie” to get the idea of the sound.   Lithe Ben Austwick and sleek Paddy Achtelik share the guitar duties admirably, and the quality and vitality of their exciting solos is inspirational. And this was truly a theatre of rock …. it was like having two frizzante haired ax wielding acrobats whirling around the stage in a blaze of psychedelic glory. It was like reliving the early days  of Led Zeppelin all over.

The crowd just stood and stared… not in a bad way either… it was through sheer astonishment and wonder. They wanted to focus and to be grateful. Towards the end of the set the Sticky Fungus crowd started to limber up a little but there was still a kinda magic on stage that held the audience in some kind of mysterious hypnotic trance.

The band plays songs like ‘White Lines’ with its chunky chords worn a bit like a hip 1970’s vicar. With thumping bass sound-tracks like those panadol adverts – you know the one with ‘constant throbbing pulsating pain’. And with the twangy southern feel of the muted lead guitars that start to creep into your head and play footsie with your sensitive and vulnerable parts. The band also has Jaggeresque vocals a la Mississippi Delta together with  singsong corn-bread chorus lines – helping to underline that their music is from the Great British southern-rock scrapbook.  Fuzzy-felt lead breaks are satisfying and accomplished … with  ‘sensible’ chugging rhythms from Will Richards on drums (sensible as in your younger sister wears ‘sensible’ shoes when she goes out clubbin’ on a Saturday night)

Other songs are Black Crowes-ish in feel and texture- with accomplished guitar lines i.e. like Black Oak Arkansas or Kentucky Headhunters. Other numbers have funky southern rhythms (and the blues) with yowser vocals similar to ‘Bad Company’ i.e. British Southern rather than ‘proper’ Southern drawl-rock. Other material was staple fare with plenty of classic sounding riffs and sing along verses.

If you are the kind of person who loves Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company / Free and AC/DC, then you are gonna just lurve this band. When I saw Four Wheel Drive for the first time, a couple of years back, I thought that they were a bit like a musical version of a 1990’s Land-Rover Discovery. You know … the one in blue with nylon trim and chipped paint. It does the job- it gets you to work and back and gets you around town – at times it is fun even, it can keep things movin’ on a long hard day – but it doesn’t really make your heart sing and your jiggly bits shiver with excited anticipation…

But after that totally triumphant concert at Sticky Fungus Staines yesterday evening I have to admit that the band has now become a shiny top of the range Hummer softop with an expensive LA chop-shop paint job, screaming flame decals, roaring afterburner exhausts and decorated by leggy babes wearing cut down denims, cowboy boots and tiny polka-dot bras.

God,  I love  ‘em!

© Neil_Mach
May 2009

Link:

www.myspace.com/4wdtheband

See ’em next at The Red Lion – Formerly Filthy’s- Twickenham May 23 2009

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