Written by: Kevin Brennan
Did you ever wish a few of your favorite artists would get together and write some great songs? Ignoring the still-lingering phenomenon that launched in the 90s of superstar duets and filling your album with guest appearances so it will sell, there aren't many substantive efforts out there for my tastes.
What we have here is the next phase in the ongoing collaboration between the Scorchers and one of the greatest bar bands to have ever spit on a stage, the Georgia Satellites.
Former Sats frontman Dan Baird steps up to lend a pile of help in the form of guitar, vocals, and ever-valuable creative assistance. The result is a 21st century throwdown that evokes ghosts of old Scorchers and Satellites along with a mess of fresh “rawk and roll” that feels right and sounds even better.
Going back to their days as clients of Praxis Management and Jack Emerson, who is acknowledged in the liner notes, the two bands were like cousins who aimed to knock down the barriers and get down to rockin'.
25 years after the fact, the Scorchers and Baird do that in abundance here, reaffirming their rightful places as members of the rock and twang hall of fame.
The first Scorchers release since 1996’s Clear Impetuous Morning, Halcyon Times is the culmination of a renewed energy the band found when rehearsing and performing for shows associated with their receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance from the Americana Music Association in 2008. Duly inspired, Jason delivers a great batch of songs both lyrically and vocally.
The album’s opener, “Moonshine Guy,” sets the tone with its subject who “Roars for the Stones/Hates the Doors/Thinks the Beatles sing for girls/He’s a moonshine guy in a six-pack world.”
From there, we head to the hills to hear a miner’s lament (“Beat on the Mountain”) and move on to Vietnam and Iraq (“Land of the Free”) before coming back to memory lane (”Golden Days”) among other points of introspection and disbelief ("Better Than This” and “When Did It Get So Easy To Lie To Me?”).
Original Scorcher guitar-god Warner Hodges, who doubles as the lead slinger in Dan Baird's Homemade Sin, is en fuego throughout, raining down walls of thunder (“Getting Nowhere Fast,” Moonshine Guy,” “Better Than This”) alongside of more controlled bursts of melodies ( “Mother of Greed,” “Twang Town Blues”).
The current rhythm section consisting of Al Collins on bass and drummer Pontus Snibb is aggressively tight, bringing a spirited urgency that pushes but doesn’t overpower.
Hodges and co-producer Brad Jones just turn it up and let the guys blast away for the most part and that works just fine. Recorded live in the studio, the feel comes through and puts the listener center stage for all of the fun.
This is a record that doesn’t smell like a comeback, a reunion, a last-ditch attempt or anything of the sort. It’s a collection of 14 really good songs that put a kick in the ass of every poser/popstar out there who thinks they know how to rock, or country-rock. Long live the old-school rawkers.more