By Request - Steve Lucas & Friends (SL Express)
This four-song single and accompanying 10-track CD is a labour of love, a mission completed at the request of the late Chris Wilson, the celebrated Melbourne singer and X collaborator who was claimed by cancer in 2018.
Steve Lucas is backed by a San Diego band on the single, and augmented by Melbourne players on the rest. The majority of instrumentation is by Lucas, The CD includes the vinyl tracks so you're good to go in whatever format you please.
This is the X singer as you haven’t heard him - unless, of course, you’ve been to one of his thoroughly entertaining solo shows where he does away with stylistic boundaries and sings whatever takes his fancy. Mostly-acoustic, largely recorded live but augmented by sympathetic players, it resonates with raw spontaneity.
“By Request” has a distinctly Americana mood to the music. That should not surprise - the EP tracks were recorded with Mexican musicians in America, as Chris Wilson asked. Their number includes Hector Penalosa of The Zeros but they are all accomplished local players.
The smart arse in me wants to call it “Tex Mex X” but that sells it short - although there is a whimsical, wonderful take on “Sad Days Girl” with Spanish interlude that’s half-a-world removed from the scorching version on X’s 1988 “And More” album.
Most of the songs are Lucas works. "Down To The River" is a pearl and gets delivered by the San Diego and Melbourne combos.
The covers are well selected and are a bunch of fun. X did their share of older material that reflected their personal tastes. In the same vein, Lucas digs up "Before The Next Tear Drop Falls" and "He'll Have to Go" and they're rendered sensitively and well. They're capped by a wild "Heartbreak Hotel" that sounds like a nod to John Cale but with Steve indulging his inner-banshee.
It's a short-run of 200 and most of them were already spoken for via a Facebook page, so run don't walk to Bandcamp.