#49 Paul Rodgers (w. Neal Schon) – Born Under A Bad Sign
Well goddamn. Found on the brilliant 2002 collaboration album Muddy Water Blues, this is sweaty bluesy glory, with everything you’d want and more. That voice! That guitar! YES!
As I recall it, Mike sent me this CD because he found a bonus track edition he had to have. And if I also recall correctly, before that arrangements were made to get him a digital copy from the US. Fun times! And I am the winner because I now have this CD! I played it when I received it, and liked it a lot. It’s nice now to re-visit it…
Cosmos Rockin’, despite its wacky intro, is a great 12-bar bar-room blues. Hot damn. There’s a cool Chuck Berry-style solo too. Party song! Great intro… Time To Shine’s piano/vocal intro builds into a lovely mid-tempo ballad rocker. Total high-hat workout, though. The word that comes to mind when I hear this song is ‘soar.’
Still Burnin’ goes back to the blues with a very satisfying stomping lope. I always love slide guitar. They even (briefly) brought back the We Will Rock You hand claps! Fun stuff… Small is an acoustic-driven ballad that’s almost country. Well, new country. Until the chorus, anyway. The “I like to sit here in the sunshine” bit sounded amateur, but whatever. It’s a pretty song that’s well-done. Worthy of inclusion, better if it had different lyrics.
Warboys has a great shuffling beat, and a menacing rocker approach. This one would be fun in concert. But I couldn’t get Duran Duran’s Wild Boys out of my head, listening to this. I can hear it… Gah!… We Believe has a slow build that brings a message of hope and tolerance (can anyone sing this stuff without sounding like a tree-hugger?) that becomes a marching rock ballad with washes of guitars and backing vocals. Nice sentiment, but that stuff never plays well, with me. I like what he’s saying, but it always sounds smarmy.
Call Me is a track I could really hear Freddie sinking his talents into, as it’s a happy little hand-clapper he’d have totally owned. Fun! Next is Voodoo, with its simple slinky riff that’s alittle jazzy, a little bluesy, a little rock. It really hinges on the vocals. I LOVED the guitar solo here. I told my son, as we listened to this in the car, that if he could learn to play guitar like this when he gets older, he’ll never work a day in his life.
Some Things That Glitter… well, “Once I loved a butterfly…” I mean, WHAT?!?! It’s a very pretty, piano-driven ballad, but the lyrics. Hooboy. It almost sounds like it’s built for Lite FM, or maybe Christian rock radio (though without the overt references in it), which is not a slam, just an observation… C-lebrity is unfortunately named, but the track brings the rawk. It’s a breath of fresh air after that previous track. Heavy blues rocker. Loved it. Nice old-school Queen harmonies.
Through The Night’s guitar intro is fabulous. More piano and slow-burner ballad. It plods a bit, but I suppose that was the point. GUITAR SOLO! Damn… Say It’s Not True is yet another ballad. It’s lovely enough, with country chord changes and odd vocal effects that negate the whole thing. Would’ve left those off, were it me. And once again WOW THAT GUITAR. The song takes off and becomes a full on rock crasher without raising its tempo.
Surf’s Up… School’s Out builds into a harmonica rocker with great energy. Such a simple tune but still chugs along. The outro is a little odd, but there you go… And finally we have Small (reprise). I never understood reprises. I suppose it makes for a prettier ending (not like the ending of the last track didn’t try), and it gives them yet another chance to hammer home their message, but, uh, guys… we heard this before! Ah well.
In sum? I really liked this record. ‘The guitar is the champion, my friends…’ There’s enough here to keep an attentive listener busy for a long time. My meager words here have barely even scratched the surface of what I would probably write if I had time to start listing all of the ways it’s awesome. If you haven’t heard it, get it in yer ears. And huge thanks to Mike for setting me up with this complex and varied record!