There are those who have suggested that 'Right Side Of Crazy' is a must have record in the same league as Metallica's 'Black Album' or da Gunners 'Appetite For Destruction' and others say its track list could fit onto any Kiss, Black Stone Cherry or Skynyrd album stating it is "a collection of carefully crafted songs that prove that the band is good enough to compete with the best in the business at every level."
Er, no! They are wrong, this album isn't, the songs don't and the band won't. At least, not yet.
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The availability of some seriously good software these days means that anyone and his dog can turn out an album of reasonable quality. It also means that bands have absolutely no excuse for putting out sonically poor product. Yet, with 'Right Side Of Crazy', The Whiskey Syndicate have shunned modern top draw production gimmickry for a more earthy approach.
Debut 'Right Side Of Crazy' is basically the best bits of their live show and is about as live and raw sounding as you can get without being a demo, having a garageland roughness that suggests this outfit has spent a lot of time on the road. In fact Wolverhampton's The Whiskey Syndicate has not only got itself a good reputation as a live act but has also apparently sold out The Viper Rooms on Sunset Strip.
Has the trick worked? Oh fuck yes but to a point. 'Right Side Of Crazy' is the sort of down low and dirty biker rock, touched with a hint of the south, that begs for this sort of belt and braces studio treatment, especially in Anthony Wright's vox dept.
You can forget the above endorsements though, because this album is nowhere near as innovative as they suggest yet it is not by any means a bad album, it just isn't the killer it could be. What it actually is is an album with the biker grunt of the old Tokyo Dragons or early Thunder and just enough southern attitude that avoids grounding out on maudlin down home country sentiment.
On first listen y'all think it is just another shoddy platter, yet persevere and you'll find a good southern biker album that deserves its place on yer death decks. 'Right Side Of Crazy' is a bit of a slow burner, not an instantly accessible no-brainer.
The song writing is not bad but there is a suspicion that it could have been finished off a little better. As it is, the album is populated by some good tunes that for the want of a little extra work remain nothing more than excellent pub rock ditties.
The title track and album opener 'Living Fast' set up the album being urgent and infectious exercises in blues rock that motor along, driven by the tight rhythm section of Stu Adams' drums and bassist Rich Corry. 'Rise For Me' has Thunder's stomp, 'Break The Chains' rings vaguely of modern Skynyrd and 'Jazz Bar', 'Rock n' Roller' and 'Skin And Bones' are atmospheric and sleazy, with bluesy guitars and a gritty vocal.
'Struck By The Light' contains hints of latter day Slade which probably gives you a clue as to why it is a live favourite and the relatively speaking introspective, subtle 'Nothing To Hide' offers a respite from the tough blues tracks and the full tilt rockers. The Whiskey Syndicate don't do power ballads as such so this is about as close as you gonna get.
The Whiskey Syndicate have something that would have been a little special, say, thirty years ago but not now. It's a good statement of intent but for the next album, and I'm sure there will be one; the band needs to get its mojo supercharged, the writing quality control beefed up and a decent producer.
A good debut then, which makes a worthy neighbour baiter suggesting these boys could have a bright future.