mon 11/11/2019

CD: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - The Age of Absurdity | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - The Age of Absurdity

CD: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons - The Age of Absurdity

Motörhead guitarist and progeny strike out on their own with a feisty hard rock brew

Bet their mum loves that band name

Many hard rock aficionados say that Motörhead’s greatest work was all with the “classic” line-up of Lemmy, drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke (who died last week aged only 67 - this review was written before that news came through). While there’s no denying their 1976-82 output was storming, Motörhead’s later career contained multitudes of gems that were its match. The band’s guitarist for this period, for 31 years from 1984 until Lemmy’s death, was Phil Campbell. He now releases the debut album by a band he formed with his three sons shortly after his legendary frontman’s passing.

So where was Campbell to go next? Judging from The Age of Absurdity, a return to the classic rock template, but fuelled with Motörhead’s desire for high velocity impact. Campbell is staunchly Welsh, a taciturn individual (I interviewed him once: polite, dryly funny, but making him say anything of consequence was blood-from-stone stuff). He’s also an amazing guitarist, able to inject squiggly blues-lickin’ solos with a furious zest. His sons Todd, Dane and Tyla are up to the task of surrounding him, while Neil Starr, once singer for Welsh rockers Attack! Attack!, is on vocals. They go at it with vim. There’s enough juice to make this more than a post-glory novelty.

They’re at their best on raging rock-punk assaults, somewhere between The Ramones and early Lostprophets, with numbers such as “Skin and Bones”, “Gypsy Kiss” and “Step Into the Fire” roaring out of the speakers. Campbell’s impeccable guitar work provides the centrepiece of some songs – the single “Ringleader” and the tasty harmonica-led blues jam “Dark Days” – while those looking for Motörhead-alike kicks should turn to the rock’n’rollin’ “Dropping the Needle”. Quibbles: too much filler, and sometimes I found myself wishing Starr had a more characterful, less mainstream rock voice (but then sometimes he comes into his own, notably on the epic six-and-a-half minute closer “Into the Dark”).

There’s a straightforward rerun of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”, featuring that band’s leader Dave Brock, as a bonus track. It’s OK, but probably more fun live, which is where I suspect this lot come into their own. In the meantime, their debut album is feisty hard rock worth cherry-picking.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Ringleader" by Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons

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