Snakecharmer – ‘Second Skin’ (Frontiers Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by David O'Neill   
Monday, 15 May 2017 04:00

Snakecharmer artworkBeing of a certain age there are many newer non mainstream radio bands that passed me by during the past 20 years.  However, the advent of digital radio and having a teenage son who is a guitarist has reignited my interest in the type of music that I have always liked.  The makeup of this band have a musical legacy that would sit in many albums of my collection. I suppose I am the epitome of the Planet Rock strapline:  first there was rock, then mortgage, then kids... Now there is rock again.  With membership of this band having played with the likes of Ozzy (Adam Wakeman), Whitesnake (Mick Moody, Neil Murray), Wishbone Ash, (Laurie Wisefield), Thunder, Magnum (Harry James) and Heartland (Chris Ousey), as well as the blues rock guitarist Simon McBride, it's fairly easy to see that this was likely to be a classic offering.

 

Rather spookily after offering to review this album I heard the single played on Planet Rock the following day.  Not having heard of the band my first effort was to jump on Spotify to find the first album.  Job worth doing as I soon realised I was likely to become a fan of Snakecharmer.  Shame I found out about the local gig in Cardiff two days after it happened!

 

So to the album.  There are 11 tracks varying between in length and style. The opener ‘Sounds Like A Plan’ is an upbeat track full of catchy hooks, with a clean blues rock guitar which soon had me tapping my foot and I can see me singing along in my car.  ‘That Kind Of Love’ is reminiscent of Bad Company with good harmonies and a very simple but effective riff that runs throughout. ‘Are You Ready To Fly’ is a very Whitesnake influenced track, with Adam Wakeman holding it together, with his keyboards subtly underlying the majority of the track.  The strong rhythm section of Neil Murray and Adam James provide the power that will soon make this a favourite at their gigs, especially with the guitar work of Laurie Wisefield and Simon McBride. ‘Follow Me Under’ is another upbeat track which is in a similar vein and Chris Ousey powers his way through the vocals showing his rock vocal credentials. 

 

I've always been a sucker for an acoustic guitar opening and that's where I'll take you as you are got me in one, but don't let it fool you.  It's a full on blues based rocker with the acoustic guitar running throughout, but not the main stay, as the track builds to a crescendo and then switches back to the acoustic guitar sitting nicely underneath the vocals even if some of the lyrics are a bit cliché (“not every rose must have a thorn”). ‘Hell Of A Way To Live’ has a good hook and the rhythm is powerful throughout.  ‘Fade Away’ is a slower track that reminds me a bit of the slower tracks from ‘Stormbringer’ and some of the slower Whitesnake tracks.  However, it stands on its own two feet and the backing vocals are sublime.  The blues guitar break is ice cool and just evokes the vision of lights being lit at the gigs it reminds me of the guitar playing of the late great Gary Moore. 

 

 

‘Dress It Up’ starts with a guitar riff and drum beat that is so familiar yet not that you think that is… (insert title here). It's a bit like ‘All Right Now’ by Free’ but not quite’ and that is the feel of the track.

 

By the time you get to ‘Punching Above My Weight’, which again starts with acoustic guitar,  Chris Ousey’s vocals really grow on you and the fact you can hear him throughout is something that is missing in many artists’ work these days. ‘Forgive And Forget’ is a good old fashioned blues rock track and Wakeman’s keyboard playing complements the rest of the track really well going from organ to piano and back, with the rest of the band showing their musical credentials. The final track, ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’, starts with another “where have I heard that riff before” moment and then it hits you..’ it's a Beatles track, but you can't quite put your finger on it.  The track again builds to a crescendo before slowing back down to the original riff. 

 

I am converted.  You have charmed this old snake and I can see me getting this and the first album in my collection before introducing it to my fellow rock fans.  It's one of those albums that you like first time and, like an old malt whiskey, will only get better with repeated doses.

 

‘Second Skin’ is out now. 

 

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