The cover of Wild One features a clapped out jalopy sitting in front of a shotgun shack. Don’t be fooled though, because the vibe of the latest album from The Sharpeez is far more Seventies London than Thirties Mississippi Delta. Which is fair enough, because these guys were there back then - Seventies London that is.
It’s probably no coincidence that one of the tracks on offer is titled ‘Dr Feelgood’, as the crackling energy on display recalls Canvey Island’s finest, and the likes of Eddie & The Hot Rods. But that comparison’s simplistic too, because there’s Knopfler-ish embroidery, and more besides, adding colour to the sound.
|The Sharpeez - All The Young Dudes|
On brisk outings like the opening ‘Automatic Man’, the aforementioned ‘Dr Feelgood’, and ‘Heat Of The Night’, the guitars of Loz Netto and band leader Bill Mead bristle and compete, with Netto’s slide playing generally occupying the foreground to embellish the catchy riffs. In fact calling Netto a slide guitarist is selling the guy short, because he’s by no means your average bottleneck honcho – his playing is expansive, by turns spiky, mournful, twinkling and slithery to cast different spells over the material.
Meantime Mead’s vocals are crisp and edgy, but with a few clever little splashes of echo for extra colour, and souped up by excellent backing vocals from Teresa Revill, which are generally double-tracked to bring a hint of the B-52’s to the overall sound. And their vocal efforts are applied to some neat and interesting narrative lyrics which give the songs a fresh twist, even if the stories on ‘Dr Feelgood’ and ‘Stiletto Heels’ could be more satisfyingly resolved.
While all this is going on Baz Payne’s bass holds down the bottom end in the background, but Brendan O’Neill drumming is all-action on occasion, with crashing cymbals complementing Netto’s typically refreshing slide on ‘Losing Hand’, and bags of flair on ‘Stiletto Heels’, on which Netto’s cracking solo is cleverly played off against Revill’s backing vox.
Other highlights include the lower key, moody ‘Bullet’, with its strong chorus, and ‘Heartache Express’ where Netto executes cute variations on a clever, descending guitar line, and a jittery solo dotted through the outro as a bonus. The slower, churning closer ‘Desperate Man’ is a co-write between Mead and blues maven Pete Feenstra, which treads a different lyrical path in a road movie-ish tale of a hero on the run for the border – the Essex county line, maybe? Joking aside, it sports another imaginative slide showcase from Loz Netto to bring down the curtain.
This batch of nine originals, largely from the pen of Bill Mead with a few co-writer credits, may not be a 5 star standout. But it does deliver sorta New Wave-ish R&B with stylish sonic detailing, striding the city streets like a confident latter day Mod. Or something. Get your shell-likes round it and write your own slogans.
Wild One is released by 3Ms Music.