|Watts - ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’ (Rum Bar Records)|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Tuesday, 31 May 2016 03:00|
Hands down ‘Flash Of White Light’ by Boston based rockers Watts was one of the very best records I heard in 2015. In fact a fair few of us here at URHQ felt exactly the same way about the eleven track work of musical genius. So why didn’t ‘Flash Of White Light’ make it into our Albums Of The Year list? Well, the simple fact of the matter was it was actually released in 2014, and it was only because of Gaz Tidey’s keen eye for musical cool that it finally got to be reviewed on these hallowed pages back in January of last year.
So, here we get the chance to put matters right and with the news that the four piece were about to unleash their fourth album, we pestered the Watts guys until they relented and gave us a pre-release copy. So, here it is folks ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’ reviewed ahead of the day of release (which is June 10th in case you were wondering), but the big question for yours truly is of course “does it live up to the heady expectations left on their shoulders following up that simply fantastic last record?”
Well, initially I have to admit I didn’t really think so. Granted ‘Up All Night’ the lead track from the record was as catchy as hell, but it was kind of a little bit too understated for me to be immediately blown away by it as I was by the likes of say ‘The Mess Is The Make Up’ or ‘Ghosts On The Dance Floor’ from that previous record. However after the third or fourth play of ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’ things just started to click into place. In fact if I were to say one thing, it is the fact that this album rocks a lot harder than its predecessor that actually initially threw me a bit.
You see in some parallel universe somewhere AC/DC didn’t actually ask Axl Rose to replace Brian Johnson, nah they asked Eddie Spaghetti and Chuck Ransom instead and the resulting band is exactly what Watts sounds like on the ten songs that make up this record. Seriously take a listen to opener ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’ and tell me I’m wrong. This track really is as hard as a rock, but comes without the media circus and multimillion dollar advertising budget that means unless we all get out there and champion bands like Watts then people will never understand there are much better “original” bands than their enormodome filling heroes playing clubs right at the end of their road, and this is happening the world over, right now!
Anyway I digress. Let’s get back to the matter at hand, and I can confirm that the influences ole eagle ears Tidey picked up on ‘Flash Of White Light’ are still very much present and correct here, they’ve just been tightened and honed to make Watts sound like they have never wanted to break out of their day jobs and tell the world that their black hearts really are full of the very best rock ‘n’ roll. So, you can once again expect to hear nods to “proper” Aerosmith on the likes of ‘Stage Fright’ and ‘Sunset’, and the ‘Casino Boogie’ of The Rolling Stones during the simply amazing ‘She’s So Electric’ and ‘Fast & Loose’. The former being a track I’ll admit I initially didn’t really like, although it is now one of my favourite songs on the record.
That though is the real subtle charm of ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’, it’s an album that feels as comfortable as your favourite pair of jeans once you had them on a few times. In fact every time I listen to the record now I find myself discovering new bits and pieces I didn’t on first inspection, the “C’mon, C’mon” backing vocal on ‘The B Side’ for example is but a few handclaps away from perfection, plus if ‘Bye & Bye’ isn’t the best Supersuckers song that they never wrote then I really do know fuck all about music. Oh, and just to prove I do know what I’m on about I’m happy to accept I got it wrong regarding ‘Up All Night’ too. That’s because here in the context of the full album it is a joyous celebration of great rock/pop songwriting just like one of those delightful new ‘Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello’ tunes by a certain Rockford band that Watts might actually be paying tribute to here.
With the up-tempo ‘Strut (Like A Champ)’ having me doing the Angus duck-walk around Uber HQ and album closer ‘Bring On The Lights’ proving that Watts can pen a glam punk anthem as tasty as anything released by likes of Biters and Prima Donna, there is certainly a lot of greatness oozing from within the grooves of ‘The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll’. Now all you have to do is hit the Bandcamp link below and go discover your new favourite band, you will not be disappointed. Trust me!