quartet, Joker Five Speed have a dirty low down rock and roll sound harkening
the days when giant rock reptiles such as Kiss, AC/DC and Cheap Trick were in
their pomp, and songs about fast cars, hot women and getting loaded were a staple
of every self respecting rock fan.
This collection of compositions from 2000 to 2006 re-ignites the embers from those halcyon days and serves up a very polished and contagious opus that will have you clapping your hands, moving your head and singing along. 'Too Far Gone' is an obvious opener that lays somewhere between Kiss and FU Manchu; motoring along at break-neck pace, but staying together, thanks largely to Roger Benton's metronomic and bouncing drumming, adding the perfect bedrock to the staccato guitar lines. 'Everybody's Alright' starts with a 'DC-esque guitar riff and floor tom accentation, before shedding the shackles and moving effortlessly into a Kiss shout-along verse melody over simple chords.
For lead vocalist, Tor, read; Stanley, Weiland (circa booze, not heroin) and Tyler, with a liberal splaterring of phlegm. The pattern for the album is succinctly set out in the first 2 songs alone and it may sound a bit too familiar, but it is a formula that is very well used throughout; Intro - Verse - Chorus - Solo - Verse - Chorus; song writing by numbers, but the numbers do add up very nicely.
The only real fault to be found, if it can be deemed a fault, is that as this represents a collection of work between a 7 year period, stylisticly and production wise, those songs recorded earlier in the process do stand out, but do not stand up. With this in mind, the 14 track offering could have been trimmed to its leaner fighting weight of 9 or 10 songs and been an absolute beauty. As it stands this is still a very solid body of work, but does start to sound as if one song merges into the next after a few listens.
Personal favourite, 'She's So' possesses a more glittery edge that will doubtless become a favourite at Glitzine Towers, whilst 'Take Me Home' is the fast paced boozed up scream along anthem that should be played at dangerously high volume, preferably in your parents basement, on a dusty old record player, whilst mimming along to the lead breaks with a tennis racket for a guitar, under the influence of cheap whiskey and narcotics. Too visual? Perhaps, but this is the 1970's, Man and I'm out to get loaded and laid. Now back to reality...
As with both Kiss and AC/DC, JFS keep their choruses as simple as possible, often resigned to one simple line or word shouted with an air of teenage angst. 'Shotgun' adheres to this template and at the same time reminids me of erstwhile Californian beach stoners, FU Manchu. In fact I'd go as far as saying that FU Manchu and JFS at one time shared the same life path, but one developed a penchant for weed, the other for booze and it shows. Whereas Fu Manchu have a penchant for the cellestial with their staccato beach bum guitar stylings, JFS have a more hop-soaked blues infusion, that airs on the dangerous.
For me, Joker Five Speed, can be likened to a favourite pair of trainers that have seen better days, but look good with your boot cuts and are as comfortable as anything you've ever worn. Sure, you really should buy some new ones and resign these to the trash, but you know that as soon as you do that you'll regret it and you'll miss the familiarity. As far as bashed about trainers go, JFS still retain some of the original lustre and will doubtless attract admiring glances and comments from people. They're a tight and uncomplicated unit that do support the best ideals of rock and roll and as such should be a worthy addition to any record collection. Whether they have the appropriate accuman and staying power to leave their mark remains to be seen, but is 7 years a realistic length of time to take to produce a body of work, bearing in mind you're niether Tool (usually 5 years betwitx releases), nor Guns n Roses (Well....whenever 'Chinese Democracy' surfaces, it's still likely to be 15 years plus since the 'Illusions')?
For now, let's forget that tricky second album and enjoy the boozy shout along rock n roll that JFS have bestowed upon us, before over analysing.
by Rev G.
Visit the Joker Five Speed Website