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Behind The Shade – James Williamson and the Pink Hearts

May 31, 2018

Leopard Lady Records LLR008CD

Following the final demise of the Stooges in 2016, guitarist James Willamsons’ first LP of original material finds him collaborating with vocalists Frank Meyer and Petra Haden. And here is the paradox: the more this band attempts to emulate the demented raunch of James’ previous band, the less interesting the record sounds. Opening track Riot On The Strip is a case in point where Meyers oversinging and cliched “rock” mannerisms undermine the attempt to move things forward. The lyric of The Revolution Stomp bravely kicks off with You Say You Want A Revolution and would like to be the MC5 but ends up smoothed over and blanded out in the search for AAA Radio action. This Garden Lies is more ranch by rote, albeit with good trumpet.

Far better are the tracks where the vocals and violin of Petra set the agenda. Pink Hearts Across The Sky has a countryish lilt, You Send Me Down has a a Motown beat and wayward sax whilst Miss Misery has attractive Petty/Nicks style duet vocals from Meyer and Haden and a thoughtful guitar solo from Williamson.  Best of all is the closing song, a cover of Alejandro Escovado’s Died A Little Today. Haden sings in a low register and plays violin over woozy Big Star Third piano and understated acoustic guitar from Williamson. So a mixed bag, and whilst Williamson plays well throughout it is hard to see how he can carve out a new musical identity for himself in this setting.

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