This Sean Kelly is a talented
guy, ain't he? Releasing classical acoustic CDs, touring with a comedy troupe,
and all this while struggling for manageable hold of a wonderfully curly mane
that makes him look equal parts Ian Hunter and Nikka Costa. The fact that he
is not blessed with the pipes of the incredible Miss Costa is probably the reason
why I have kidded myself into thinking that Crash Kelly may not be that worthy
of a place on my already crowded turntable but, with the release of 'One More
Heart Attack' and my realisation of just who Kelly reminds me of vocal-wise,
I might just have to eat a little humble pie. And that, my friends, is only
the beginning of the retro references.....
Generally, the guest artists featured on albums that I get sent are so far below Z-list that I'm sure that they are sat at home in their ever-widening bandanas desperately awaiting the arrival of a new twenty eight letter alphabet. Crash Kelly do things differently; Brian Tichy (of Foreigner and Billy Idol), Moe Berg from The Pursuit of Happiness, Quiet Riot's Rudy Sarzo (a man deemed more desirable than Neil Murray - you decide, girls!!) and Gilby Clarke all feature on 'One More Heart Attack'. The album is old school coolly split into two sides; 'Los Angeles' and 'Toronto', with the five songs of the former being produced by Clarke, a man who has probably never introduced himself as once being in a band with the son of a Monkee. The dude really should have a bit of a re-think.
The album opens with the title track which is a valentine to classic US stadium rock, with a power pop chorus the likes of which has graced many a Cheap Trick tune. Second song 'Jenny Jet', with its guitar solo straight out of a classic rock CD set infomercial, reminds me of Redd Kross when they gave in to their vintage Kiss influence on their essential 'Third Eye'. Then it hits me - Jeff McDonald is the singer who Sean Kelly sounds like and, while Kelly would probably prefer it if I said Marc Bolan, McDonald will more than suffice for this severe Kross Kollector! A quick listen to 'Old Habits Die Hard (and the Good Die Young)', 'The Devil You Know' and 'Love Won't Die' - with a suitably fat riff from a song blessed with some guest Gilby guitar - and you'll start believing the band's claims that "it ain't 2008, it's still 1976, baby...."
The 'Toronto' side opens with the grin-inducing song title 'Nottingham Rock City Blues'. This is Crash Kelly's ode to a debauched UK tour with The Quireboys and, with its cheeky and cheesy lyrics, is like a glam rock version of Motorhead's (We Are) The Road Crew. This song will have British listeners giggling into their murky memoirs as, not only will many of them have had debauched nights out with "Spike and the boys" and their music, but also at the infamous Rock City club in Nottingham itself. I, personally, have seen many a great act at that venue - Ramones, anyone? - but have also suffered the afore-mentioned blues at this Midlands-based home of cock rock. Throwing unopened cans at the heads of ex-girlfriends is now but an embarrassing memory. Yes, I have since seen the error of my ways - empty cans in the future, I promise....
'Right Girl, Wrong Time' opens up like a present day attempt at new wave - think Fountains of Wayne - before presenting the listener with a chorus that will have fans of Seventies and Eighties rock music shaking their heads at just how the band have managed to make such a dated sounding hook sound so vibrant! 'Trash Talk' sounds like it could have come off an Ace Frehley solo record, 'Falling In And Out' is centered on a huge hook and you're left thinking that probably every riff, melody and chorus could be found in one hefty trawl through Kelly's vintage record collection but, when it sounds as cool as this, who cares? In fact, album closer '16 On A Summer Night' is probably a whole shelf of that collection in itself - think Joe Jackson being covered by Unmasked-era Kiss, with Thin Lizzy twin guitar, the stomp of 70's glam and more than a hint of 'Heat Of The Moment' by Asia (!) and you're about halfway there!
This album has proved to be more than a pleasant surprise. A whole host of my favourite releases from 2008 - from 'Hail Destroyer' by Cancer Bats to 'Hollywood Ending' by Frankie Whyte And The Dead Idols - seems to be from Canada; add another to the list. With the awesome Toronto-based Rue Morgue slowly rotting in my magazine rack, there appears to be an all-encompassing Canadian renaissance taking place - the re-emergence of Jon Mikl Thor must be mere months away.....
by Gaz E.
Visit the Crash Kelly Website