Roar Hide Records (label)
20 May 2013 (released)
20 May 2013
The Western Sizzlers are a honkin’, stonkin’ and of course rockin’ country outfit from Atlanta, Georgia. Led by Englishman Kevin Jennings (ex-manager of The Georgia Satellites, and The Black Crowes), Jennings has since toured with royalty acts as diverse as The Stray Cats and Kris Kristofferson.
Legend has it that The Sizzlers sprang to live back in the 80’s, at the infamous Hedgens Tavern in Atlanta, and in various incarnations at that. This feel-good collection boasts songs penned by Jennings over the past decade. According to the man himself, the songs are all pretty much just three chords and the truth, and were inspired by his love of Status Quo, The Satellites, and the real country music. Little wonder the songs were now turned into an album - recorded with a little help from his friends. These include Charlie Star (Blackberry Smoke) on vocals, Jeff Bakos (Jason & The Scorchers) on bass, Toby Marriott, Nicky Ford and Rick Richards (The Georgia Satellites) on axe slinger duties, Larue Riccio, Wayne Glass and Kevin Fitzpatrick on drums, and our man Jennings as the ringleader.
With a pedigree as immaculate as Jennings’, and musical friends just as talented, the result can only be impressive.
The fun-laden bar-room anthem ‘One More Beer’ might be in the best country rock tradition (ok, more country than rock), but this oompah sing-along ditty should be made compulsory in pubs up and down the country. C’mon everybody: “One more beer, and I’ll buy you a diamond…” I should be so lucky!
Scorching riffs and some spirited slide guitar work on track 2 remind of Black Crowes and ZZ Top even, yet ‘Keep Smiling’ is nicely held together by an overall harmonious feel.
The band’s sense of humour is particularly evident on roots rocker ‘Can’t Win For Losing’, sporting some tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “Well honey, I’ve been from rag to riches, now I’m back to rags… One day, I might get it right.” Dedicated to all men with three ex wives and four children!
Humour prevails on next song ‘Sugar Pie’, a slow and classic country song in the best Kristofferson/Nelson vein, and with effective banjo play.
‘I’ll Die A Happy Man If It Kills Me’ is an up-temp barn stomper with full-on Southern rock roots and a mighty lot of guitar twangs, while the Sizzlers’ cover of Status Quo’s ‘Break The Rules’ perfectly captures the honky-tonk swagger of the original.
Every rose has its thorn, just like every cowboy has a sad, sad song… This much is true, especially when listening to ‘Shine’, a tearjerker of a love song about a guy who just can’t seem to get over the break-up with his ole lady. Try one more beer, perhaps?
‘One Day Closer To Crazy’ comes across as a little Tom Petty influenced, and the searing country & western guitars nicely underpin the lament “I miss my other life, you know, the one when I was young…”
The chirpy choppy fusion of country and rockabilly works perfectly well on ‘The Last Straw’, but it’s the subtle complexity of ‘The Lions Cage’ which brings to great effect the unusual combination of R&B and country with the off-hand riff mastery akin to ‘Get Back’ by The Beatles.
In contrast, ‘Unfinished Business’ is more serious in content, and the melancholic mood is emphasized through the use of pedal steel and slide. The song is about how life is forever an unfinished business, and that we should make the most of it because one day we run out of time. But even death has its plus points, as suggested here, namely the fact that we never need to wake up again with another headache or pain. Or another hangover, in case of too much beer!
The aptly titled closing track ‘The End’ is short and purely instrumental, but boy let the Sizzlers rip on this one!
You don’t have to be a connoisseur of country rock to enjoy For Ol’ Time Sake, but it helps, especially as the numbers are all steeped in traditional roots and performed that way. Which makes the songs sound sizzling alright, but not overtly varied as far as the style department is concerned.