Moose Records (label)
03 March 2014 (released)
28 February 2014
When Medicine Hat first graced the circuit back in the 1990's they were always hard to categorise. It wasn't Country or Rock, nor was it Country Rock. In parts it was distinctly Metal. That was what was great about them, as you'd be pleasantly listening to an Albert Lee styled riff and then a Les Paul powered heavy rock solo would roar through your speakers taking the whole song to another level. True, Medicine Hat had they small share of success with videos playing on mainstream channels, three Albums, and a live DVD, but more recently, apart from a handful of gigs here or there, they'd very much disappeared from the radar. That is until now with the "A Long Way Back Again" EP out on Moose records.
I'm reliably informed that this line-up is Medicine Hat V2, with only the original singer/songsmith and bass player on board. So how do they measure up against their previous incarnation? Pretty well it seems. Still included are the pairing of both rock and country guitarists, but in this version the (Albert) Lee styling has been replaced with a contemporary country guitar finesse. And why not? It's been many a year since their last release, and the line-up has moved on in years (no offence boys), so a more mature sound is what we should expect. However, none of the old fire has disappeared.
The opening track "A Long Way Home" doesn't take any prisoners and is almost tale of the band's own comeback. It affirms certainly their commitment to "settle the score" as the "bad guys are gone", and is a nice confirmation of their rock and country styling. Medicine Hat have two lead guitarists and aren't afraid to show it.
The second "Heart's Gone Crazy" is a heart wrenching ballad paired against a back drop of soaring rock guitar that we'd come to expect from the Medicine Hat of old, and where lyricist Mark Jackson truly excels. It's the quietest on the disc but a surefire roadworthy radio anthem. Once it's in your head there's no escape, and you'll be humming it for hours.
"Huntin' For Fun" however, is what this band excels at. In your face whiskey soaked boogie. A true American bar song if ever I'd heard one. Beware the working week is over, there's no chance of anyone staying sober to this tune. The guitar duel midway through is exceptional and harks back to some of those old 1970's Skynyrd numbers. From there on it just builds, and builds, and then builds a little more. Ending in what seems like a whole orchestra of guitars. I'm not sure if the studio had a roof left after this recording.
The EP closes with with "Fire in Muskogee 2013" which continues where the last track left off. Opening with CB radio vocals, a heavy rock "Convoy" is the best way to describe it. It's definitely heaviest by far on the EP – but with it's own country styling of course.
Compared to previous releases the production is slightly more raw, and Medicine Hat are getting easier to categorise with this Country/Southern Rock offering. At times though we still get the genre breaking moments of old. A chicken feast with many dips if you will. And I'm more than happy to say that although these boys have been away for awhile, they've come back with an record that's definitely a return to form, and would highly recommend this to any Southern Rock-Country-Metal fans that missed them first time around – or those that are still yet to discover them.