Sami Yaffa is a legend, and not just in his own lunchtime. As a former member of Hanoi Rocks and the New York Dolls, not to mention an ongoing involvement in the solo career of Hanoi mate Michael Monroe, he’s seen more rock n’roll at close quarters than most of us, and lived to tell the tale. A legend and a survivor then. That’s a pretty good combination.
Not only that, he’s a pretty good musician and songwriter too, as evinced on his new record, The Innermost Journey To Your Outermost Mind. Occasionally you’ll hear flashes of his various day jobs, but Yaffa digs deeper here giving a satisfying look into his deeper influences to create a varied album that excites, delights and intrigues in equal measure.
Surging opener Armageddon Together opens with an electrified testification to the redemptive power of rock n’roll that remembers names like Spacemen Three and Spiritualized as much as Iggy Pop; a hypnotic drone over which Yaffa gives a convincing vocal performance, it’s as good an opening track on a album as you’ll hear all year.
Selling Me Shit keeps the pace up, adding a dash of Ramones mania to the mix, before an abrupt detour into reggae gives you an idea of Yaffa’s mindset here; music for him really is a great big melting pot, and one of the main ingredients (unsurprising, probably given his calling as a wielder of the four string motherfucker) in that pot is reggae.
For the most part, it’s a sort of reggae as viewed through the prism of names like Strummer and Simenon, a late seventies take on the genre that’s sure to appeal to rockers with an open mind. Only on last track Cancel The End of the World does our protagonist go deeper, whilst on Down At St Joes he incorporates a Stonesy, Heartbreakers-styled country honk; but whatever style he adopts, he delivers perfectly.
Not one for the metalheads, then, maybe not even one for fans of Mr Yaffa’s more raucous side. However this is an incredibly listenable album, and one I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with over the next few months. Thank you, Sammi – and let’s have more of the same very soon!
The Innermost Journey to Your Outermost Mind releases on September 3rd.