richkidsIf Stewart "Leadfinger" Cunningham's metamorphosis from razor-riffing Detroit-inspired rocker to introspective alt.balladeer threw fans of his previous bands, his shift to tough-talking bluesman with glam overtones might suit them better.

That Leadfinger's been soaking in some mid-70s Brit blues rock influences is self-evident, even if he and his band hadn't covered Taste's "Bad Penny" on this album, issued on Spanish label Bang! Records. Slide guitar has prominence throughout. These are mostly mid-tempo rockers, all devoid of big production or studio tricks. The result is an album that's immediately accessible and comfortable, without being cliched.

Cunningham thinks "Fade Your Brilliance" is the best song he's ever written. There's a bit of competition in those stakes but it's up there. Announced by backward masking, it's the opening track and starts low-key before cranking up a gear and staying there. With a poppy chorus and a stuttering bassline, it's a statement that you're in for something different to most of what's gone before.

"Devil's Holiday" is straight-forward boogie rocker with juicy slide guitar while "Thin Lizzy Is On My Mind" is a full-some tribute to Phil Lynott that Gary Moore might wished he'd written. It's got a swing and a mighty central riff that requires fist-pumping and singing along, given a sticky carpet and a dozen beers.

The "Rich Kids Can't Play Rock and Roll" could have come across as class warfare if it wasn't so true and it's entirely appropriate from a band that's never attracted anyone looking remotely like a major label A & R man.

This is being written 24 hours after seeing Neil Young and the buzz is still warm, but the majestic "Show You I Care" puts Leadfinger in a stadium setting with scorching guitar that could give ol' Shakey a run for his money. There's a cranking riff that kicks it up a gear that could have walked out of a Brother Brick recording session. Contrast that with the song that follows, the album mid-point blues instrumental "Andy Farrell Blues", for a handle on how well the band thought this record out.

"Keep On Searching" is reprised from "The Floating Life" and sits well in this less skeletal form while the Saints cover, "Ghost Ships", gets a makeover and a faster tempo and sounds pretty fine in these hands.

As is the way in rock and roll, the album's somewhat historical with an entirely new, four-piece line-up now treading the boards (bassist Wayne Stokes having re-located postcode and multi-band drummer Steve O'Brien allegedly retiring.)


Bang! Records