ONE MORE AND WE'RE STAYING - Honest John Plain and the Amigos (Action Records)
Good old Honest John Plain. His songwriting style really hasn't changed one bit in the 30-plus years he's been in the rock and roll game. Rousing, sing-along, beer-drinking tunes that also happen to be ultra-catchy and very British in the best possible way. Rremember the Boys' "First Time'" or "TCP"? John wrote 'em .
Do they still call this stuff Lad Rock or is it perhaps a bit of Lad Rock mixed with a bit of Dad Rock ? Or am I totally out of date with both of those terms? Whatever you want to call it, it certainly warms the heart.
Things get off to a great start with "70's Girl"' which is book-ended by nods to the Faces (the guitar riff from "Had Me a Real Good Time") and is very reminiscent of Plain's co-writes on the very underrated Ian Hunter's "Dirty Laundry" album from back in the early 90's. "Mummy", a tribute to John's recently departed Ma, follows and manages to be both poignant and anthemic (reminding me very much of the Ramones'"Swallow My Pride" on the choruses.)
John's always had a soft spot for the Fab Four as well ( the Boys covered "I Call Your Name" on their classic first LP ) and "Nursery Rhyme" finds him paying his respects with a trippy, descending chord progression that evokes "Dear Prudence" and consists lyrically of various lines from nursery rhymes - "Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie " and the like - strung together to form a fun slice of cod freakbeat.
"Sad Boy", "Blue" and "If Our Paths Should Cross" are all excellent slices of boozy power pop. Of course, it's all about the hooks and these tunes have them in abundance- as I type out each title I find myself thinking "Oh yeah, that's a really good one-goes like this..." ( adopts Cockney accent and warbles away).
The album closes with a fun sing-along that once again recalls the Faces that's entitled "Brigitte Bordeaux", followed by a snippet from Gary Holton's "We Gotta Go"' ('Cos there ain't no show without rock and roll " goes the chorus - and it's hard to argue with that.) The only real misstep , to my mind, is a decent but kinda by-the numbers- run-through of "Pills" , which has been covered so many times that this seems a little unnecessary. No big deal, though, 'cos it's a fun song to play and it certainly fits in with the mood of the rest of the album.
It all sounds wonderfully familiar and comforting, then, like an old friend showing up on your doorstep with a bottle of whatever your poison may happen to be ( I'll take Maker's Mark please ). These days, that's far more than enough. To hell with breaking new ground. Oh yeah, the band sounds awesome by the way, as does John's voice. - Andrew Molloy
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