Beck in Black - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Naturalsound)
Not a “new” album as such but a compilation of favourite tracks, as nominated by former drummer Brenn "Sausage Paw" Beck, “Beck in Black” hangs together really well. Six of the 14 tracks are previously unreleased and a few others are re-mastered so there’s plenty of value here for glued-on fans.
For the uninitiated, Left Lane Cruiser is a duo (often augmented in the studio) from Indiana who play an eclectic brand of garage-blues with hillbilly and country undertones. Eight records in (four of ‘em on Alive Naturalsounds), they are currently Fredrick “Joe” Evans IV on guitar and vocals and Peter Dio providing the backbeat. When he’s not Left Lane cruising, Joe Evans is getting down and dirty in King Mud with Van Campbell (Black Diamond Heavies) and Parker Griggs (Radio Moscow.) Cos that's what families do.
With respect to the drummers, the distinctive element of LLC is Evans’ scything guitar and hill country vocal, and of course they’re all over this record. Unusually for an Alive Naturalksounds act - the roster is full of stoner-psych heaviness - LLC detour into playful territory. Listen to the bluegrass-favoured “G Bob”, the heavy shuffling “Crackajack” and the ragged and previously unheard “Chicken”.
Film buffs and Steppenwolf fans will recognise the cover of “The Pusher” that opens this album and it’s delivered with LLC’s own greasy fingerprints all over it. “Easy Rider” re-make anyone? The unreleased “Bloodhound” sounds like a companion piece, with a wash of organ throughout.
“Heavy” goes right back to “Bring Yo Ass To The Table” (the second album) and rings true to its title. It’s not hard to hear why it’s a Brenn Beck favourite with a feel that sounds like the MC5 on “Come Together” without Dennis Thompson’s fills. “Maybe” is the record’s pause for reflection but it’s anything but quiet with Evans’ sharp-edged guitar front and centre.