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Borderline, London

mark taylor

reuben archer

Stampede's Reuben Archer went down the solo route last year and released one of the best albums of the year with the eponymously titled 'Reuben Archer's Personal Sin', an album full of quality tunes featuring a whole host of special guests.

Bizarrely, despite releasing the album last year and performing a few gigs with his band Stampede, it's only now that the album gets it's official launch gig and unfortunately it's on the same night as two other major gigs are taking place in town. However the real music lovers knew exactly where to be and that was right here at the Borderline.

Joining Reuben for this soiree were fellow Stampede guitarists Rob Wolverson and Chris Clowsley. Wolverson co-wrote the majority of the album with Archer. The singer looked dapper in his pin stripped suit and when he doesn't have a microphone in his hand he does the right thing by swigging from a beer bottle. I told you I was at the right gig.

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Steam rolling into 'Desperation Train' and the bluesy swing of 'Lately' the band soon find their groove. 'Ace Cafe' is a biker anthem dedicated to the London cafe, a place frequented by Archer in his younger youth of which he says: "I used to go there when I was a Mod." A brave man to say that in a room full of rockers.

'Spanish Nights' was dedicated to a recently departed friend of Reuben's who had a bar in Spain where Reuben actually wrote this fine song after a few jugs of Sangria. "Ole" was the response from the crowd.

'Bulletproof' was the heaviest song of the evening and was dedicated to Eric the Belgian who had travelled over especially for this gig, but as my fellow journo buddy Andy mentioned to me: "He may like the British music but I bet he thinks the beer here is crap."

It was only apt that I burst out laughing to this witty quote just before they played 'Like A Clown', complete with Lizzyish solos from the six stringers.

'Flaming Gold' was only one of two Stampede numbers performed and amazingly this little beauty was just a bonus track. This acoustic gem showed the versatile side of Archer as he croons in the best possible Neil Diamond fashion. A great song.

'TV Junkie' has a Van Halen shuffle giving the guitarists room to explore whilst 'Time On My Hands' is a terrific blues number very much in the vein of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

Ending the main set with the stomp of 'Play My Rock'N Roll', an encore was demanded with Stampede's 'Send Me Down An Angel' which gave Archer a chance to rest his larynx with the crowd singing back the chorus.

Why Archer feels that these songs don't belong in a Stampede set is open to debate and only he can be the judge of that. Maybe he feels that Stampede can only remain in the melodic rock genre, but with songs of this quality there is no reason why he can't merge the two together. A change of direction never did Fleetwood Mac any harm now did it.

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