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'Gentlemans Pistols'
(Rise Above Records)

Michael Foley

michael foley

gentlemans pistols

Do you remember when you were young, and you shone like the sun? Life was just one long party, with strong booze, cheap fags, hot girls and boys with a soundtrack of tight-trousered rock. Even if it wasn't, it should have been and Leeds rockers Gentlemans Pistols would have provided the perfect soundtrack.

Formed in 2003 by singer/guitarist James Atkinson and bass player Douglas McLaughlan, Gentlemans Pistols have now released two albums, as well as proving to be a formidable live act.

This reissue of their 2007 self titled debut is rock as it used to be; raw, bluesy, sexy and full of attitude, but brought bang up to date by Atkinson, McLaughlan, guitarist Chris Rogers, and drummer Adam Clarke.

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The album opens with a double blast of hard rock. Firstly, 'Just A Fraction', a lascivious fast rocker whose jerky riff stays rattling around the skull long after the album has finished. This is followed by 'Out Of The Eye', a similarly high speed mix of revved up rock and roll and almost rapped vocals. They are great fun songs which got these feet dancing around the room. The singing on both tracks is consistently excellent, and Atkinson's versatility as vocalist is highlighted on the third song, 'Heavy Petting'.

For this blues the guys slow things down and Atkinson shows his soulful side with a great vocal reminiscent of both Free era Paul Rodgers, and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, and he sings the sexy lyrics with much style and sauciness. Musically the song has echoes of early Led Zeppelin, with a hint of Black Sabbath in there, and there's nothing wrong with that!

Next up it's back to heavy rock, and 'Widowmaker', which rattles along nicely before we get to what is one of the real highlights of the album, 'The Lady'. This tale of a gold-digging man-eater starts off bluesy and crawls like a king snake, before things get harder and the song builds up to a heavy middle and end section that is quite thrilling. The playing on this song is superb, in particular the menacing lead guitar work which really does add to the atmosphere of the piece.

From here on there is no let up in energy, as the album continues with the heavy rock theme explored on 'Just A Fraction' and 'Out Of The Eye'. 'Lying & Fooling' is my favourite of the hard rock songs, with a feel similar to that achieved by another great band ploughing a similar furrow, Rival Sons.

The album concludes with 'Parking Banshee', a romantic story of what is best described as late night loving in a car park. Atkinson really does pull out all the stops on this one with a vocal that is in turns sexy, sinister, or both, as the song requires.

Atkinson is the real star of the show on this album. That's not to denigrate the playing of the rest of the band, who all put in fine, enthusiastic performances, but it's front man James Atkinson who has real rock star charisma, and a fab voice to boot.

My only real criticisms of this album is that the majority of the songs, although well put together and performed are not the most original musically and lyrically. Despite that I enjoyed this album hugely, and it's a great accompaniment to an evening of beer and boogie.

If you enjoy bands like The Answer and Rival Sons, then give this Gentlemans Pistols' CD a listen, and you'll find yourself with a happy smile. I can't wait to get my hands on their second album!

Track listing:

1. Just A Fraction
2. Out Of The Eye
3. Heavy Petting
4. Widow Maker
5. The Lady
6. Lying & Fooling
7. Mistress Mistrust
8. Creamy Lid
9. Vivid Wonder
10. Parking Banshee



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