You can picture the scene, can’t you… record company ‘executives’ sign band, then turn their lizard-like minds to marketing same. “Hmmm, these boys… hard rock… that’s pretty much over, isn’t it? why did we sign them? Wait… Irish you say? Australian? Okay… what we’ve got here is an EXPLOSIVE MIX OF THIN LIZZY AND AIRBOURNE… blah blah AC/DC… blah… Rose Tattoo! Trebles all round!” And so Jailbirds were born… possibly to die under the weight of unreasonable expectation created by ‘the marketing spiel’.
I hope that isn’t the case, because, as ever, the marketing people have got this spectacularly wrong. There’s far more of interest to Jailbirds than mere fourth or fifth generation classic rock rehashes, as evinced by the band’s recent video release, Nothing Good Lasts Forever, which actually sounds like a fascinating mashup of Jake E. Lee-era Ozzy and Ted Nugent. Oh yes, this is a far more interesting proposition than yet another boring run through of the Young Brothers through the uber-tedious Airbourne filter.
Shadow Of Love has a bluesy middle American feel to it, albeit with a flash of Brit grit courtesy of the vocals of Axel McDonald, who has a real Jaggeresque twang to his vocal tone – which is as effective as it is surprising and gives the band a real point of difference.
The UK is in the grip of some low-key nouveau classic rock hysteria at the moment; inexplicably- if you were around when this music was doing the rounds originally, at least – bands like Massive Wagons and their ilk are starting to make waves as people sensibly decide that hard rock isn’t over (wrong again, marketing men!) and flock to its banner in pleasingly large numbers again. Thrill Of The Chase would look to fit this particular niche perfectly; Zeppelinesque melodies married to Stonesy raunch with an extra sting of hair metal peacockery equals hit in 2019, and there must be a place for Jailbirds on the top table of this new wave of classic rock if this particular track is anything to go by.
Underdog is a strutting, stomping piece of arena rock, bred out of Bad Company by Free (but once again with a massive shot of the Stones to spice up the mix) and it’s the best thing here by some way; great solid, in-the-pocket rhythmic pulsing from bassist Jamie Trimble and drummer Jay McDonald (Axel’s brother) lay for the foundation for Axel to exercise his digits a bit whilst rhythm axe Ed Orr lays down slabs of chiming chord work straight outta the upper echelons of the hard rock Pantheon. Of course it’s derivative, but it’s making the foundations shake Chez Strickmann and you can’t ask for more than that, can you?
There’s nothing here you won’t at least appreciate if the hard rock of the seventies informs your general musical likes and dislikes; My advice to you would be to ignore the hyperbole you might read or hear about Jailbirds from people too lazy to look beyond dullard comparison (remember – these same people tried to tell you that Wolfmother were the new Black Sabbath) and simply immerse yourself in their new album. It certainly does offer the chance of a great escape from the drudgery of most modern music, with the added bonus that you won’t need to tunnel out of your current domicile to get there! Win-win!
The Great Escape is out today (July 5th).