|John Waite - 'Live All Access' (Self Released)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Friday, 26 July 2013 03:00|
The interest in a new release, and a live one at that, from legendary vocalist John Waite would, you'd imagine, garner a fair bit of attention, surely enough to warrant a record label chancer to put his money where his mouth is and maybe make a little more.
But no, despite the former frontman of The Babys and Bad English being hugely respected as one of the finest vocalists of his generation, quite a few others too as it happens, this new release, 'Live All Access', has been released by Waite's people (the Waiters?), initially on iTunes and as a physical disc from the famed English singer's live shows and official website.
While an eyebrow or two may well be raised at this development, especially knowing some of the flaccid 'rock' flogged to death by desperate labels these days, it is a fist of defiance that I raise in the direction of Waite: thing is, while the majority of 'veteran' rock vocalists in their sixties are peddling substandard product and over-inflated concert tickets for their 'event' freakshows, Waite appears to be tapped in to what is happening in the music industry....if it can still be called an industry.
Instead the industrious and adventurous make, and walk, their own paths, John Waite doing so by way of an initial download-only album that makes a mockery of product from the so-called superstars of this (rock) world. Dollars in the bank can buy you as many wigs and gastric bands as you like.....but they can't buy you a voice: John Waite's voice on this impressive live album will embarrass every Paul Stanley, every Joe Elliott, every past-it preening peacock of a frontman who still has the cheek to put 'singer' next to their name on a record. That Waite has suggested that he release new product every eight months or so further proves that you simply don't have to stop evolving, musically or professionally.
If the attraction of Waite himself - number one singles on the Billboard chart rarely get forgotten - isn't enough to tempt you into this album, then the addition of guitarist Keri Kelli to his band (alongside Tim Hogan on bass, and drummer Rhondo) may well be another masterstroke, the former Alice Cooper/Pretty Boy Floyd guitarist surely drawing attention from fans of a more 'glamorous' sub-genre to the party. Kelli, after joining Waite's band in the summer of last year, thrills on this disc, his solos as simply effective as required, his tackling of some timeless melodic rock riffs impeccable. But, while Kelli (in his forties) may well be the new kid on the block, it's the frontman a couple of decades his senior that really pushes every button required.
"Raw, no overdubs or bullshit" is how Waite has described 'Live All Access' and, man, does the record profit from that admirable stance; there's no Sebastian Bach-style gobbing, then fobbing, off here. John's voice, from opener 'Change' (his first solo hit single) to album closer 'Saturday Night' (from the massive 1984 album, 'No Brakes'), sounds as fantastic as you'd imagine. It breaks from time to time, of course, but it's the finest instrument on the album, the man shaming his contemporaries, you'd wish, into retirement.
Waite has gone on record and said that the decision to record this live album came as a result of trying to capture the energy, bottle the lightning, that came with Keri Kelli's addition to his band's ranks and, while the six stringer's performance is choice, the other real star of this album, second only to Waite's tremendous tonsils, is the setlist. It's a little short at just eight songs - the only hint of a negative surrounding this release - but it sparkles with tunes that prick the senses and caress the memory.
Songs like 'If You Ever Get Lonely' (from the 2011 album 'Rough & Tumble') sound like they've been set regulars for years - convenient really seeing as four songs from that album appear here - while 'Head First' takes you right back to The Babys in their prime, coming from the band's hit album of the same name. 'Mr. Wonderful', from the debut solo record, appears also, alongside an emotion-tickling 'In Dreams', taken from the 1995 album, 'Temple Bar'.
That's right, there's no 'Missing You', the number one single from 1984. Tells you a little more, I guess, about where Waite is today. With half this live album's tracklisting coming from his last studio album, Waite obviously still sees himself as a valid musician in this new century...and long may that continue - no mailing in performances and picking up the pay check for this legend, you'd guess.
Instead of remortgaging your home to see a stadium rock show event featuring a band of decrepit leeches, invest in 'Live All Access' and support a proper rock star who, not only deserves that status, but also deserves your attention for refusing to pander to the masses and, instead, is still making admirable marks in this tired business.