Monday, November 13, 2023

Long Road Home - Are We Invisible?

Long Road Home make no secret of the fact that they have a penchant for Seventies classic rock. Not that you’d be in any doubt after a listen to their debut album Are We Invisible? With a line-up that balances guitar and Hammond organ, they’re well equipped to reminisce about the heyday of Deep Purple, Uriah Deep et al. And subject to a few caveats they make a pretty good job of it too.
They set out their stall nicely on the opening ‘Long Road Home’. A sturdy, thrusting riff comes gilded with swirling keys, over a muscular rhythm section, and harmonies add colour to the chorus. Guitarist Steve Summers get bonus marks for his biting solo, and the splurge of organ from Ian Salisbury isn’t far behind.
Long Road Home - a bongo dog doo-dah band?
They wear some influences on their sleeve with ‘I Lose Again’ and ‘Where I Wanna Be’.  The first features a splash-and-twirl riff that’s very Hendrix á la ‘Foxy Lady’, and is nicely put together with guitar and organ taking turns at the wheel, Summers impressing again.  The second sports an urgent, fuzzy riff buttressed by surges of Salisbury’s organ, ordered straight from the Deep Purple catalogue circa 1972, and romps along very nicely till a dialled down bridge over swooning keys.  This is the cue for lift-off with a thoroughly Blackmore-esque solo from Summers, and indeed some distinctly Blackmore-Lord styled interplay.  It’s all good fun, although the melodies are nothing to write home about, and Mike Sebbage’s vocals don’t really have the attack and range to ram home these rockers.
Sebbage is more comfortable when he can relax into a lower pitch, as on the elegant ‘What They Call The Blues’, with its stretchy bass from Derek White, mellow piano, and spacey wah-wah guitar.  ‘Whispering Rain’ also hits the spot in quiet mode, with a Gary Moore-like bluesy guitar intro, a measured, reverb-soaked vocal, and a soulful organ solo from Salisbury.
They throw in some variations with ‘Are We Invisible’ and ‘I Don’t Like Belong Here’.  The title track features an intriguing, squiggly-toned riff and hints of Latin in Lee Morrell’s rolling drums, now and then supplemented by bongos.  Impressive harmonies add an AOR gloss to proceedings, and Summers brings a jazzier tone to his fluttering guitar solo.  Meanwhile there’s a touch of funky strut to ‘I Don’t Belong Here’ with its squelching wah-wah riff and stabs of horn-like keys.  There are distinct echoes of Whitesnake’s ‘Girl’ at work here, but lacking the soulful swagger David Coverdale could bring to bear.
They find some good moves on the closing twinset of ‘Gone Gone Gone’ and ‘Perfect Afternoon’ as well.  The former opens with jaunty acoustic strumming and a droll, drawled vocal, before picking up the pace as Summers embarks on a skating slide solo, and Salisbury similarly switching things with a honky tonk piano break.  And the closing ‘Perfect Afternoon’ warms up with a courtly, Wishbone Ash-like intro before kicking in with another crunchy, jab-and -move riff over crisp drums and throbbing bass.  They buff it up with more AOR polish, and Summers’ guitar seasoning is tasty again, but the melody is a bit lacklustre, and boy do some of their harmonies go off-kilter on this occasion.
There’s some fat could have been trimmed from Are We Invisible?, and it would have benefitted from some stronger hooks and a bit of tidying up.  But the enthusiasm and facility Long Road Home display for blues-inflected Seventies classic rock sounds is still infectious.
Are We Invisible? is out now, and can be ordered here.

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