Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Bad Day - The Bad Day

Yikes – a concept album!
Fear not though, rock’n’roll fans.  The Bad Day is on no account a mystical Tales Of Topographic Oceans epic.  No, this second album from the guys who used to dub themselves The Bad Day Blues Band is instead a half-hour serving of a peppery, spicy stew of Sixties British R’n’B, blues-rock, and punkish energy.  And the tale it tells a couple of star-crossed lovers, struggling over the course of one day with the chains of their past and the Jungleland of the city.  (The story is set, somewhat to my surprise, in New York.) 
The Wild Bunch get ready to ride

The official track listing is just ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’, but after tireless investigation your intrepid reporter has winkled out the working titles of the underlying tracks in order to guide you more easily through these mean streets.  (Alright, I asked the band for more details, and they helpfully coughed ‘em up.)
The opening segment, ‘Wake Up Carolina’, eases in with the ticking of an alarm clock and a Stonesy, country-leaning riff before blasting into flight.  It pretty much sums up what this lot have to offer, with a grabber of a hook on the chorus, vibrato-laden vocals from Adam Rigg, a trilling solo á la ‘American Woman’, and Sam Spranger’s blazing harp doubling the melody and filling in around it, over the well-sturdy rhythm section of Rigg on bass and Andrea Tremolada on drums.
‘Queen Of The Dirty Minds’ wades in with a ringing, ‘Blockbuster’-like riff, and with Tremolada’s thudding beat could be a glam-rock stomp but has a rootsier, wilder vibe courtesy of Spranger’s blasts of harmonica, before they dial it down by segueing into ‘The Bad Day’ with sparkles of Spanish guitar and a reflective first verse.  Then they let loose with a raging chorus of crashing drums, throbbing bass and lead-heavy chords. But there’s also tension in the guitar riff that underpins Spranger’s harp break.
‘Devil’s Lullaby’ is a slice of snarling power pop, coming over like Springsteen’s ‘No Surrender’ being whacked out by The Clash, with spiky chords and thumping drums to the fore on an old-fashioned 60s rock’n’roll bridge.   It’s breathless stuff, and the pace doesn’t falter on ‘Get Out’, which has a tumbling hard rock riff to go with an urgent, confrontational lyric and vocal, and another wiry Peck solo, while Spranger’s harp worries away, contributing to the typically feverish vibe.
‘When The Cage Comes Down’ rides in on another twiddling, undulating rock riff, and switches tracks into a fierce guitar solo with fiery harp reinforcement.  But ‘Half Now Half Later’ shows they can mix light and shade, starting off as dreamy reverie as our hero recalls better times, before erupting into some Townshend-like crashing chords and a vaguely Celtic, tara-diddling guitar solo.
‘Yeh Boi’ is another tense affair, all chopping, surging guitar and rhythm section, overlaid with harp harmonising as it conveys the restless pacing of the heroine in the city streets, then strips down to sparse chords and kick drum before dropping into the rather different ‘New York’.  Here Peck’s funky rhythm guitar is straight outta ‘Soul Man’ – these musical magpies also raided the Sam & Dave library for ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’ on their previous album Table By The Wall – while Spranger delivers a counterpointing, wailing harp riff and a skating, slaloming solo.
‘Son Of A Bitch’ is a high octane rocker, roaring towards the tale’s climax like an F1 car, then braking furiously into a corner before the agitated, protesting, declamatory chorus, and accelerating into the moment of truth, and the elegiac contemplation of a final separation that is ‘Broken Hands’, with its controlled, sweetly sad solo from Peck.
The Bad Day have succeeded in carving out a sound of their own from familiar rock’n’roll elements, and good on ‘em for that.  They may not sound much like the ‘Oo, but there’s a similar attitude going on here as they explore alienation in a manner akin to Quadrophenia, but at a tangent – and more succinctly.  The Bad Day is a lean, turbo-charged consignment of modern rock’n’roll made out of familiar ingredients.  If I wanted, I could find fault with it, but stuff that.  Listen, and get yer ya-yas out – whatever that means.
 
The Bad Day is released on 3 June, and can be ordered here.

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