Title: Coming HomeLabel: Independent Release
do a 'Quantum Leap' back to the heyday when what was (and
still is!) called 'The Pub Rock Scene' of the early-late
70's was thriving, bringing to light such hardworking,
gung-ho bands such as Bees Make Honey, Ducks Deluxe and
Kilburn and The High Roads, with some bands actually
crossing over into the 'pop chart territory', gaining one
hit wonder status (Eddie and The Hot Rods, Kursaal
Flyers), one in particular going on to legendary status,
the brilliant Dr. Feelgood!
Great time and a great scene that fortunately for us, is still alive and kicking to this day, yes, even in the North East, folks, and top of the band list for our region is a cracking four piece called STAN, from Newcastle, of course, with a simple name to remember, but they bristle with energy and rock like a bugger, so check out their latest album, 'Coming Home', and be prepared to be very impressed!
It kicks off in fine fashion with 'Out Of This Place', a mid paced, guitar-driven snorter that'll shake off yer blues instantly due to it's upbeat melodies and harmonies, followed by the gentler, country/pop tinged 'Something Good', where Colin Burrows' whiskey-soaked, gravelly vocals really complement the song, and in fact ALL of them here! The title track shows that this band is as tight as Mother Teresa's knicker-elastic, Dave Kennedy (electric/acoustic/b.v), Dave Pipkin (drums/b.v.), and Rob Tickell (bass/lap steel/b.v.) pulling together to create a lush, sentimental aura musically, as Burrows gentle vocals hit the heartstrings full on, but not for long as the powerhouse that comes along with 'Love This City' lifts you higher than Grey's Monument, all driving guitars 'n thumping rhythm section, Burrows doing his utmost best to emulate Joe Cocker, even if he doesn't realise it! You may even come across one or two 'air harmonica' players with this one, along with the usual 'air guitarists' via the solo. Marvelous.
If there was ever a song to expose the lovely gritty rawness to Burrows' vocals, then 'Sail Me Away' hits the mark dead centre, as this laid back 'slowie' meanders along with just a hint of edgy guitar-work to give the track that wee bit of life that could have been missing if it had stayed more on the placid side, then all of a sudden, up pops 80's styled Stones to shake things up a bit on 'Got A Reason', the licks could so easily be Keef at his peak, and as the song pans out, yeah Ma-an, this could've escaped THAT band and fortunately Stan have come up with it, the bluesy vibe (especially the slide) is as infectious as the Doc's waiting room in December! A personal fave of mine on the album AND live at the Three Tuns!!
'There Comes A Time' opens up with harmonies galore then begins to skip along with as much life as there is in a tramp's vest (as the Stereophonics claimed in '97!) and funnily enough, this isn't too far away from their template, though I do prefer Mr. Burrows' vocals here, no way as dragged out as Jones', yet on the slightly funked up guitared 'Escape From The Zoo'.
Stan seem to hit the Squeeze button, lyrically clever and 'Ba-ba-ba'd' harmonies that worm their way into your brain and stay there until you least expect them to reappear, 1145pm to be exact!! Thanks a lot, lads. If you're a sucker for those songs that make you want to curl up in front of the fire, glass of wine in hand to help you 'chillax'(???), then 'You Help Me Make It' is just what the doctor would order, as this will stir the emotions you forgot you had, 'cos this keyboard-led slow-burner will put you in your comfort zone and ruffle your hair at the same time, (well, some of us!) before heading off into jam session' territory towards the end.
Then be prepared to pull up that good 'ol throw round your shoulders, close your eyes, and soak in the lovely acoustic based gem 'Sad Song Day', that ends this long player. It's gentle tone nestles in with the obvious sad lyrics that make the bottom lip tremble, especially apt if you've had one of those days, but no less a great way to bring this belting album to it's close.
If Carlsberg had 'owt to do with Stan, then they'd be the best band in the World, but thankfully they don't, as they hail from the best place in the World, Newcastle, and that's better than anything anyone could offer them, so go catch 'em live next time they're on in your neck of the woods, and you'll see why they are rated 'The Best Band In The North East'.
Review by: Robb Baldwin
Out Of This Place
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