House of Lords (or House of Wigs, as one of my more unkind-if prescient mates used to insist on calling them back in the days of Guns 'n' Rroses) are such a complete anachronism in today's world of digital pirating and reality TV-inspired lifestyle choices as to make them something of a curiosity. They weren't that big in the first place, so what in the maker's name would compel them to keep plugging in, day in, day out when the only seeming conclusion would be that the various men involved with keeping the HoL flame alive simply end up with a keen understanding of the law of diminishing returns?
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Big Money holds the answer to this and, quite possibly other, burning questions. Because in a world where quality almost always comes second to the chance to turn a quick profit, House of Lords stand proud as a band that's willing to subsist on pot noodles in order to keep churning out high quality – actually make that absolutely bloody marvellous- albums such as this. Albums such as this.
Starting off an album with a stadium-devouring, strutting piece of hard rock nirvana is never a bad idea, so the 'Lords up the ante by throwing two of the buggers straight into the pot first up. Both the title track which opens the album and its successor 'One Man Down' are gargantuan slabs of the sort of cod-Zeppelin excess that was so popular back in the band's heyday, and, whilst some of the lyrics touted by vocalist James Christian may seem a bit cringeworthy in 2011 this thunderous musical barrage more than settles the nerves and leaves you begging for more.
Back in the old days track three, 'First To Cry', would have been Big Money's lead off single; Straight out of the Desmond Child songbook, it comes fully equipped with a blinding guitar solo you can whistle (courtesy of guitarist Jimi Bell), a strutting 'Livin' on A Prayer' bass line and some patented whoa-ohs all over the place that had your correspondent singing along with such vigour that next door's Dogs got quite upset.
'First To Cry' is followed by 'Someday When', the first song thus far to really echo the band in its pomp. Icy keyboards (which really bring to mind former member Gregg Giuffria) usher in a slow burning ballad that's pure class. Christian plays a blinder here, reaffirming the fact that House of Lords is his band – he's the star of the show, and this song is his from top to bottom, even though Bell tries to steal the show again with another great solo. It's exciting stuff.
'Searchim' allows the pressure to drop a little, being very much the sort of album track that might have appeared on one of Whitesnake's pre-1987 albums. Chritian sings for his life again, but the track never really ignites, though its pleasing enough.
'Living In A Dream World' treads water in a similar fashion, the band going back to the Zeppelin template for another unprepossessing hard rocker that, compared to what's gone before, disappoints a little due to its lack of ambition.
Things are looking up again soon though, as the band tumbles helplessly headlong into another ballad. 'The Next Time I Hold You' is pure, hanky-wetting, lighters in the air eighties mayhem – look around you whilst listening and you will see grown men hugging one another and punching the air before hurrying off to make a quiet call to that special someone. Powerful, powerful emotions can be unleashed by songs like this – don't fight them.
From there on in it's all plain sailing. 'Run For Your Life' is a straight up, uncompromising rocker that doesn't mess about in getting to another sure fire winner chorus, whilst 'Hologram', in another, parallel universe where justice is served – even to singers sporting outrageous toupees- would be one of the most successful and most played radio anthems of all time.
Of course you can't top such outstanding brilliance, and Christian and company are experienced enough not to try. Instead, to round out the album they give us the gritty 'Seven', the deliriously catchy 'Once Twice' and the staggering album closer 'Blood', which starts out as a workaday rocker before blossoming, com chorus time, into another stunning heavy pop song; it's good enough to take its place with the best of House of Lords' canon, and that really is the best way to describe this album as a whole – easily their best since 1990's Sahara.
This is classic, classic Hard Rock.
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