Dave 'Bucket' Colwell has a pedigree as long as his guitar-whammying arm, his name set in stone as an active player in UK rock history over the past thirty years. Lately Bad Company's guitarist, he was recently inducted into the Harrod's Guitar Hall of Fame.
For this, his solo album, he's gathered a circle of quality mates, including Adrian Smith, Spike from the Quireboys, Thunder's Danny Bowes and Gary 'Harry' James, New York Dolls' Steve Conte and Bad Company's Robert Hart. Harry James and bassist/backing vocalist Jaz Lochrie retain the rhythm section throughout, whilst the rest play musical chairs.
'Guitars, Beers & Tears' is British rock at its best, its diversity maintained not just by the assortment of singers involved (nine over the twelve tracks), but the varieties of rock showcased here. It is, after all, a large umbrella.
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There're the easy rockers like the mighty title track itself, plus 'Make Up Your Mind', 'Why You Call' and 'Life', sweet rock ballads 'Girl Of My Dreams', 'Somebody To Love' and 'Why Can't It Be Me'; the grinding, bluesier rock of 'Survive' and superb Frankie Miller cover 'I'd Lie To You', and smoother, melodic rock of 'If You Need Me'.
There are enough influences and styles at play here, with sax-players, keyboardists, harmonica players, fiddlers and backing vocalists (including Lauren Harris) nipping in and out, to cause a pile-up, never mind vocalists swapping mics.
You can hear the Bad Company influence on 'Make Up Your Mind', written with Adrian Smith. In fact, for those who've never heard Adrian as a frontline singer, this and 'Reach Out' will have you nodding appreciatively, at the very least. The latter was originally on the B-side to Maiden's 'Wasted Years' (1986).
From Spike's familiar rasp (guess he's been gargling with broken glass again), to Danny Bowes' and Edwin Cain's straight-as-a-die rockout vocals, the powerhouse intro from new kid-on-the-block Chris Ousey, and Bad Co Robert Hart's sublime vocals on 'Somebody To Love', there must've been a lotta spittle on the mic. I have to say, though, that because of Hart's propensity to bend his voice between rock, soul and pop, there is a danger this song could get picked up by the next Boyzone. Ahem.
Moving swiftly on, 'Why You Call', in particular, showcases Bucket's superb guitar talents, with Andy Hamilton's session sax returning us to solid rock a la Springsteen.
The title and timing of 'Guitars, Beers & Tears' are pretty poignant for Bucket at this point in time, particularly, I would imagine, 'Why Can't It Be Me' and 'Somebody To Love'. A tad schmaltzy, but then we're all allowed to bleed a little, aren't we? He's not just a revered guitarist, but a fantastic bloke with a lot of humility, much-loved amongst the British rock elite.
Only natural that his mates would want to be a part of this immensely satisfying album, not only from British rock's point-of-view but, obviously, Bucket's. Much catharsis going on here - which is, after all, what music's for, from both sides of the coin.