Verden Allen and Soft Ground
Love You & Leave You
added: 17 Feb 2013
// release date: 11 Feb 2013 // label: Angel Air Records
Mott The Hoople
reviewer: Claudia A
founder member Verden Allen
has returned to the studio to record a new album, and this time with a full band sound.
Strictly speaking, Love You & Leave
You isn’t comprised of new material as such, but is a re-working of previous Allen tracks (with the exception of the title track). Recorded with help from his band Soft Ground
, the result is best described as one punchy scorcher that begs to be played at maximum volume.
We still get to hear Verden’s trademark Hammond organ in spades, but whereas his solo album versions provide a slightly rougher and more ‘basic’ sound, here everything sounds more fleshed out and more textured. Either versions bear the mark of excellence of course, just depends on ones mood and preferences.
The riff work in particular, courtesy of Jamie Thyer
(who lists Bolan/T.Rex as an early influence), is the driving force on the album (ok, Verden’s Hammond organ too!). Thyers’ lethal guitar solos are the yin to Verden’s yang. Spine of the quartet is Rob Hankins
on bass, while on drums we have ex-Tigertailz Matthes Blakout
(who can also be found as ‘Eric Carr’ in the KISS tribute band Dressed To Kill). If that ain’t a bunch-and-a-half, then I don’t know what is!
Opener “Love You & Leave You’ kicks off with one of the most tragicomic lyrics I’ve heard in ages: “I lost my lover for another / So I drank to numb the pain / I lost my liver for my lover / Now my life it ain’t the same.”
Verden Allen proves to be the same master-wordsmith as ever. While the track’s musical arrangement doesn’t set things ablaze immediately, it nonetheless gives a fair impression of things to come.
I love the way Verden uses his organ skills on next track ‘On The Rebound’, it exudes a certain baroque
cool at the beginning. Catchy number, that one!
‘Find Yourself ‘ is a rock ballad, or power ballad if you will, and it’s Verden’s typical nasal voice that stays firmly in the foreground, but low and behold - we are also treated to a few seconds of dominant guitar riffs somewhere mid-song.
Then it’s boarding the fast train with ‘Knocking On Those Old Back Doors’ – a kicking hardrock number that thunders along like a freight train loaded with explosives. Allen’s retro-style organ spiel would have given Ray Manzarek a run for his money, while guitar, bass and drums contribute to the feral attack.
‘Wine Ridden Talks’ has a Dylan-esque feel to it (after he’d gone electric), and the whole Dylan vibe is enhanced by Allen elongating some words during his singing. The song gets faster as it goes on, and so do the guitar solos.
Much of the same can be said about ‘Soft Ground’, although the organ here transports you back to a time when things were altogether more psychedelic. The composition is broken into ‘segments’ – some are more mellow, while other parts are a true sonic assault.
‘Son Of The Wise Ones’, complete with solos galore, exemplifies classic power rock, while ‘Long Time No See’ flows nicely and comes across as particularly alive due to its catchy chorus.
The superb ‘Fine Time To Love’ provides the calm before the storm, and that storm is unleashed on closing track ‘A New Way’. Building up gradually, the energetic groove and the soaring organ whip up some frenzy here. And now it’s time to cool down with a tipple from the chiller cabinet!
Thirteen tracks of damn fine hard- and power-rock make this album a compulsory purchase for all those who appreciate quality and bona fide musicianship. (Please read my interview with Verden Allen in the ‘Interviews’ section.)
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