Review: The Wildcards – When The Moon Shines Bright
Posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
“When The Moon Shines Bright”
The third studio album from the Devon-based band, The Wildcards, features an appealing mix of uptempo r&b, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, delivered with their customary vigour and musical quirkyness – with some heavy tremolo and surf guitar and powerful playing from the whole band that comprises a pretty original sound, but with plenty of groove and swing.
The band comprise of Vince Lee (guitars and vocals), Martin Vowles (guitars and backing vocals), Al Wallis (bass and backing vocals) and the thunderous drums of Kevin Crowe, who along with Martin Vowles were of course half of the very popular blues band, The Nightporters, with the guest vocal talents of Becca Langsford who contributes backing vocals to four songs and takes the lead on one.
Proceedings open with the title cut, Vince Lee’s “When The Moon Shines Bright”, based around a grinding, de-tuned guitar riff, on this tale of insanity, sexual tension and more! The r&b gem, “Women Are The Roots Of All Evil” sees some sparkling guitar work from Martin Vowles, with a reprise of the song also ending the album. “She Can Rock” is firmly in Little Richard territory, an uptempo romp with Vince Lee almost screaming out the vocals, and more wild guitar.
The pace is taken down for an obscure Duke Ellington tune in “Chocolate Shake”, a big band arrangement stripped down, and again, beautifully carried off. Martin Vowles’ “Out Of Control” sees some surf guitar lead lines, with the rhythm section of Al Wallis and Kevin Crowe locked into a demonic groove. The band tear it up on a rollicking version of Guitar Slim’s “Got Sumpin’ For You”, with blistering guitar solo from Vince Lee.
The spooky instrumental “Dead Cat Bounce” was written by Martin Vowles, described as “Django on acid” in the liner notes, with more off-the-wall guitar lines, the band then tear through the West Coast jump blues of “Gal From Kokomo”, before Becca Langsford takes a sterling lead vocal on Ruth Brown’s “Sweet Baby Of Mine” – classic 50s’ sounding, with handclaps and doo-wop backing vocals – and definitely a standout.
“Welcome To The Snakepit” is again pretty hard to pigeon-hole, with several different feels to it . . . a definite Eastern groove, and some calypso thrown in with more biting guitar . . . telling of a musician’s downfall, over an epic six and a half minutes, with this thoroughly enjoying release ending with a crazy reprise of “Women Are The Root Of All Evil”. This is far less blues-based than their previous two releases, but for originality and musicianship it gets a thumbs-up here!
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