Sunday, November 21, 2021

Five Points Gang - Wanted

“You might think we’re just a little blues band” suggest Five Points Gang on ‘All Points Bulletin’.  Well, no actually, I don’t think that.  And I very much doubt that the FPG fellas do either.  The blues may be in the musical DNA of this Welsh/Brazilian/French trio (yes, you read that right), but they sure as hell don’t sound like Muddy Waters on this first studio album.
No, they sound like a rock band who’ve bent their ears to Hendrix more than a little, in a similar fashion to Philip Sayce and Dan Patlansky.  And somebody in there has a fondness for Stevie
Five Points Gang - looking real cheerful after raiding the dressing up box
Wonder methinks, in funky ‘Living In The City’ mode.  And I dunno if they’ve ever paid much attention to Cream, but there’s a tendency towards all-action rhythm section syncopation of a jam band persuasion coming from somewhere.
So when they announce themselves with ‘How Long’, it’s with a twiddly guitar riff and rattling drums that raise a fair old head of steam, while lead singer and guitarist Joe Pearson kicks in with a strong, clear vocal - reinforced by well-pitched backing vox from his buddies – and a pretty zippy solo to close.  ‘All In All’ continues in a similar vein, Gaet Allard’s booming drums driving a strong and sturdy riff, while Pearson contributes a wah-wah solo – and then they slip in a Police-like “white reggae” rendition of the third verse to shake things up.
Later on though, they up the funk ante on the likes of ‘What Kind Of Man’ and ‘All Points Bulletin’.  The former is all round funkified, with Dinho Barral’s bass bobbling everywhere, a wiry guitar solo from Pearson and later a wailing wah-wah effort, and there’s a nifty passage of guitar riffing/drums interplay too, with Allard giving it large on the skins.  ‘All Points Bulletin’, meanwhile, is a rock’n’roll party tune, but with a Wonder-ish funky riff thrown into the mix, along with a slithering guitar solo before it reaches a screeching finale.
They can cool things off effectively too, as evidenced by ‘Let’s Stay Together’ with its elasticated bass and offbeat rhythm, and semi-plaintive vocal on the verses before picking up on the chorus with its ooh-oohing backing vocals.  Then there's a razor-like guitar solo and Allard getting a whole lot more active on drums – and cymbals – as it seems is his wont.
If anything though, I’m most impressed by the snappy, commercial-as-all-hell AOR sound of ‘Deep Inside’, with its tush-shuffling rhythm, catchy to the nth degree melody, and more simple but effective harmonised backing vocals, en route to a hyperactive closing instrumental section.  It’s a mighty fine piece of pop-rock writing and arranging.  But lest anyone think they’re a bit soft, the following ‘Made Man’ goes a bit overboard in trying to establish some rough’n’raw credentials, with Pearson working himself into a lather vocally.  By the same token the slow number ‘Love By The Gun’ is better when he relies on the clarity of his voice than when he goes for rasping anguish.
He does deliver plenty of interesting guitar work though, whether it’s the jazz-inflected soloing on ‘Drifting Away’, the ‘Little Wing’-like mellow intro and distinctive, Stylophone-like tones on ‘All She Said’, or the jagged riffing on the agitated ‘The Secret’ – on which he again gets a mite too worked up vocally for my liking.
There’s lots of good stuff on Wanted – too much really, with 13 tracks clocking in at 55 minutes.  (Yeah, I know, I’m always moaning about albums being overlong.  But here’s the thing: I’m right.)  If Five Points Gang had held back three tracks for another day then this would have been a more focused album, and better for it.  All the same, Wanted is a pretty kick-ass calling card, and I strongly suggest that Five Points Gang are kept under close surveillance from now on.
Wanted is out now on Lunaria Records, and can be ordered here.

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