It’s hard to believe that Black Star Riders have now been with us a decade as it feels like they’ve been part of our rock ‘n’ roll landscape for much longer, the band having wisely taken the name instead of recording new material under the Thin Lizzy moniker. Now onto this, their fifth album, they’ve certainly forged their own identity whilst retaining some of the spirit of Lizzy’s legendary heritage, the fire in their blood burning brightly.
Black Star Riders – Wrong Side of Paradise (Earache Records)
Release Date: 20 January 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
The titular opener very much shares some of the same DNA of Phil Lynott’s troubadours, the Celtic swagger beefed up with a modern, harder spin and Ricky Warwick’s distinctive voice full of grit and romance. Equally, Hustle moves swiftly with a bluesy stomp that would fit in with a packed bar in the heart of Belfast or being blasted from a festival stage in California, such is its everyman appeal.
The new single, Catch Yourself On, is the new single and “a phrase often used in my home country of Northern Ireland,” Ricky Warwick says. “It’s used to tell someone to stop being ridiculous or to get real. We’re sadly becoming slaves to technology and social media (guilty as charged). We don’t think twice about sharing our innermost feelings and thoughts with a world of strangers. We seem to be losing the ability to think for ourselves. Technology is controlling us. Instead, we should be controlling technology. It feels like it’s already surpassing human interaction.”
As you make your way through the album, there’s an overwhelming feeling of family here, B.S.R. bringing that sense that the listener is part of a community and whilst epic in places, Wrong Side Of Paradise never slips into the overwrought theatricality that some artists do when trying to sound earnest.
The key to this is not just in the performances and production but largely in the songwriting, and there’s an honesty and integrity here that goes much deeper than any rock star posturing. With tracks like the uplifting and rambunctious Better Than Saturday Night, a buoyant Riding Out The Storm and Pay Dirt with its Boys Are Back In Town feeling of good times, the band show their mettle, hearts on sleeves and all-in-it-together ethos.
Done before by others, The Osmond’s surprisingly heavy Crazy Horses is a curveball cover that is a lot of fun but seems a bit of an odd move given the quality of the self-penned material on offer here, disrupting the flow before the rolling Celtic rock of Burning Rome and the Thin Lizzy meets Bob Seger blue collar Don’t Let the World (Get in the Way) puts things back on a more natural path.
The closing pair of tracks round things off in grand style with the stirring new wave style of The Skids inhabiting every groove of Green And Troubled Land and ’70s-influenced classic rocker This Will Be The Death Of Me, a knockout combination.
With each new album, Black Star Riders stretch their wings a little more, and in Wrong Side Of Paradise, they’ve continued to develop the sound that makes them blazing lights in a crowded scene. Always leaders, never followers. Here’s to the next ten years.
Ricky Warwick in-store dates
Friday 20th January – Assai Records Edinburgh 1pm
Friday 20th January – Glasgow LOVEMUSIC 7pm
Saturday 21st January – HMV Sunderland 2pm
Saturday 21st January – Reflex Records Newcastle 6pm
Sunday 22nd January – Crash Records Leeds 2pm
Sunday 22nd January The Parish Huddersfield 7pm
Monday 23rd January – HMV Manchester 6pm
Tuesday 24th January – Liverpool Phase One 7pm
Wednesday 25th January – HMV Birmingham The Vault 6pm
Thursday 26th January – Banquet Records 7pm
Friday 27th January – Norwich, Soundclash – 6pm
Saturday 28th January – HMV Crawley – 1pm
Saturday 28th January – Brighton, Resident – 6.30pm
Sunday 29th January – HMV Reading -1pm
Sunday 29th January – Oxford, Truck – 6pm
Monday 30th January – Southsea, Pie & Vinyl – 1pm
Monday 30th January – HMV Southampton – 5pm
Tuesday 31st January – Rough Trade East – 7pm
Wednesday 1st February – Cambridge Relevant Record Cafe – 5pm
Thursday 2nd February – HMV Leicester 5pm