With a sound now synonymous with Ricky Warwick, it is no surprise that his album ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’ is just that. A hard rocking, tub thumping melting pot of guitars and all things good.
Ricky and his band, Keith Nelson, guitars, percussion and backing vocals, Robert Crane on Bass and Xavier Muriel on drums have delivered on all fronts with this album.
With a smattering of guest performers that read like a who’s Who from the world of rock including Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Andy Taylor formerly of Duran Duran, Thunder’s Luke Morley, Dizzy Reed of the mighty Guns ‘N Roses and even Ricky’s daughter Pepper.
Warwick and his peers give an audible demonstration of how to write and perform classic, guitar driven rock’n’roll.
On the title track, Ricky’s easily identifiable vocal always delivers and conveys the lyrics of the song in an emotional but angsty manner. Backing vocals by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot on the track enhance the quality of the vocals and I really enjoyed the song.
It will have the place jumping once we are all back to the much missed live gigs.
‘You Don’t Love Me’ has already received extensive air play and it has a character about it that sticks in your emotions, the lyrics are heart tugging and the riffs splinter your soul courtesy of Thunder’s Luke Morley pull at your emotions too.
‘I’d Rather Be Hit’ written as a metaphor about how politicians keep letting us down and it does hit you with its tempo and layers of vocals in the chorus, This is a top track for me from the album.
Dual guitars and a constant pace have the lyrics riding along rather well. A punchy track for sure as it explodes through an Andy Taylor (Duran Duran) guitar solo into an explosive ending.
‘Gunslinger’ shoves the guitars to the forefront with a shout along chorus, this is fast and furious, a short track but one that deserves its place, a punctuation from the more lyrically heavy ones which adds to the overall enjoyment of this album.
Breakneck speed drums and guitars crack into ‘Never Corner A Rat’. This has such a strong punk feel to it, a style that suits Ricky, hard and fast, dirty snarling riffs, I’m exhausted listening to it and its only just over 3 minutes long. I love the variety this album is bringing with these tracks.
‘When Time Don’t Seem to Matter’ was written for his daughter Pepper, this is a lovely duet between Ricky and Pepper, the strings filling out the track but the acoustic and vocal keeps the lead on this very lovely obviously deeply personal song.
The familiar opening of ‘Fighting Heart’ is a huge contrast to the previous track. This would fit comfortably in any Black Star Riders set, the guitars, the tempo, the vocals all combining to lift your spirt and send any negativity out of the door.
Crashing in in an explosion of cymbals announces ‘I Don’t Feel At Home’. That lyrical storytelling about drug addiction and the impact on family is back while winding away in the background are repeated riffs and a lovely deep rumbling bass line.
A song that feels sad, not because there’s soaring riffs and heart wrenching solos, but a pace and tone set through the understated guitars and almost trudge to the beat of the drums and when you consider the lyrics is understandable, “I don’t want to live in this world anymore”, it hits your soul. Powerful stuff.
Followed by a very moody ‘Still Alive’ it is again another huge contrast of styles of music which flow throughout the album. With warbling riffs and audible keys, plenty of sliding riffs through into a powerful chorus, the track has it all.
‘’Clown Of Misery’ , as stated by Ricky, “this is a demo idea that I sang into my phone and sent to Keith. Again we really like the simplicity of it, so we decided not to mess with it. The song is about laughing on the outside while your crying on the inside.” I love the way this fits with the album, a clever addition to add even more interest to an already diverse and enjoyable album.
‘You’re My Rock N Roll’, the ringing of a mobile followed by a quick chat leads in to a 50’s feeling intro which then excels itself launching into fast and furious punk edged rock and roll! What a fabulous way to close the album.
You have to give it to this album, the song-writing from a lyrical point of view is stunning. The different feels to the tracks gives you something to smile about.
A spot of therapy in the mad world of today which chased the blues away and lets the rock and roll flood into your heart and soul. Love this album, one I will have on my playlist for a long time I am sure.
‘When Life Was Hard And Fast’ Tracklist
1. When Life Was Hard And Fast
2. You Don’t Love Me
3. I’d Rather Be Hit
5. Never Corner A Rat
6. Time Don’t Seem To Matter
7. Fighting Heart
8. I Don’t Feel At Home
9. Still Alive
10. Clown Of Misery
11. You’re My Rock N Roll
Review by Lindsay Smith for MPM