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'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)/Hearts On Trees'
(Nuclear Blast)
Out Now

Johnny Main

johnny main

ricky warwick

Ricky Warwick is today more commonly known as front man of Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders a band which was born in 2010, when Ricky was approached by the management for Ireland's favourite sons, Thin Lizzy.

Along with Lizzy Guitarist Scott Gorham, Warwick spearheaded a reformation of Thin Lizzy which spread over several successful tours playing the formidable Lizzy catalogue to fans all over the world, before the band decided it was time to create new music, and started writing songs for what would evolve into the current Black Star Riders line up.

Born in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland, Warwick got his first guitar at aged fourteen and has never looked back since. Initially influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle. It wasn't long before he was also being influenced by bands like Stiff Little Fingers, MC5, The Clash, Motörhead, and, of course, Thin Lizzy.

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Warwick moved to Glasgow where he founded The Almighty in the late Eighties, and the band enjoyed ten Top 40 singles and four Top 20 albums in the UK alone, as well as sharing stages with Motörhead, The Ramones, Iron Maiden and Metallica. In fact The Almighty were one of the very first Rock/Metal bands I ever saw live, when they played the Music Hall in Aberdeen on the 'Soul Destruction' tour in 1991 and from that point on became something of a mainstay in my music collection.

The Almighty split in 1996, after which Warwick founded the short-lived (sic), a hardcore punk band, before recording another two albums under The Almighty banner before the band finally called it quits.

It wasn't until 2002 that Warwick finally set out on his own with his 'Tattoos & Alibis' album, which was accompanied by a successful solo acoustic tour. The album was markedly different from anything he'd produced up to that point, and featured some powerful story-driven songs about his roots, life, loss, redemption and love.

His second solo album, 'Love Many Trust Few' appeared in 2005 and was followed by 'Belfast Confetti' in April 2009. Shortly after 'Belfast Confetti' was released, Warwick got "the call" from Gorham that set his Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders journey in motion and temporarily pushed his solo career to the back burner.

Even though he was touring, recording and writing with Black Star Riders, Warwick still found time to write songs for his solo project and he now sees himself releasing not one, but two albums at the same time - 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)' and 'Hearts On Trees'.

On the surface these albums are easily distinguishable because on a basic level, 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)' is a full on rock album whereas 'Heart on Trees', is a acoustic based, but both are very credible works that show Warwick has lost none of his spark.

The albums were both co-written with Sam Robinson who, like Warwick, hails from Belfast and also feature a host of Warwick's more famous friends including Def Leppard's Joe Elliot, Andy Cairns (from Therapy?), Snow Patrol's Nathan Connolly, Ginger Wildheart and, of course, his Black Star Riders cohort, Damon Johnson.

With 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)', Warwick shows he can still rock with the best of them. Album opener 'The Road To Damascus Street' (undoubtedly a reference to the real Damascus Street situated to the north of the River Lagan in Belfast) sees him in fine form with a leisurely approach to his vocals while the title track, 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)' bounces along at a fair rate with the lyrics name-checking the likes of Bobby Darin, 'Mack The Knife', Dusty Springfield and (strangely) Dickie Davies along the way.

This seems a fairly eccentric collection, but it's people or things that have had an influence on him in the past and it works so well within the confines of the song. There's a show-stopping guitar solo too, just before the big build up at the song's conclusion.

'Celebrating Sinking' is a glorious number, complete with backing vocals which boost the sing-along chorus. It shows that Warwick's voice may have mellowed out a bit over the years but he can still rock out when the mood takes him. Alongside that you have 'That's Where The Story Ends' which has an almost country and Western feel about it as it bumps along with a fair pace.

An early favourite on the album for me was 'Johnny Ringo's Last Ride' which is everything you want in a classic rocker. However, it's left to 'The Son Of The Wind' to be the most traditional rock sounding track of all with the drums leading the way and a synthesised vocal performance from Warwick pushed back into the mix. For me, it's reminiscent of his work with The Almighty from around 1993's 'Powertrippin' album - this track certainly packs a punch.

The other side of the coin is 'Hearts On Trees' which shows Warwick in a much more reflective mood. 'Presbyterian Homesick Blues' kicks off this second album in fine fashion with the acoustic guitar is backed up with a meandering electric guitar track that adds extra texture to the song.

'Psycho' has a short bluesy guitar riff which is backed by a soft vocal which belies the subject matter - killing an ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend or remembering about a dead friend when she was still alive. It all works though as the song's not overproduced but plays on the simplicity of the voice and instruments.

'It's Way Too Cold For Snow' is a fairly downbeat number but it's never morose and has a deeper vocal performance which underpins the complex guitar melody. A real highlight from this album, it seems to be a deeply personal relationship song, and it's something I'm sure everyone can relate to.

'The Year Of Living Dangerously' on the other hand proves that sometimes the simple things are the best. It's another deeply personal song but it's written and arranged so well with a sincere vocal from Warwick making this another highlight of the album.

Warwick has been and continues to be a part of successful bands and has a successful solo career too, and it's clear that he's still on that upward trajectory, so let's all wish him continued success with the Black Star Riders, but hope that there's plenty more solo albums left in him too.

You can see the official video for 'Celebrating Sinking' here:

You can see Ricky Warwick live (supporting Stiff Little Fingers) here:
Friday 4th March – Forum, London
Saturday 5th March – Roadmenders, Northampton
Sunday 6th March – Academy, Bristol
Tuesday 8th March – Junction, Cambridge
Wednesday 9th March – Waterfront, Norwich
Friday 11th March - Rock City, Nottingham
Saturday 12th March – Academy, Leeds
Monday 14th March – Garage, Aberdeen
Tuesday 15th March – Ironworks, Inverness
Thursday 17th March – The Barrowlands, Glasgow
Friday 18th March – Academy, Newcastle
Saturday 19th March – Ritz, Manchester

'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)' Track Listing:
The Road To Damascus Street
Celebrating Sinking
When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)
Toffee Town
That's Where The Story Ends
Johnny Ringo's Last Ride
Gold Along The Cariboo
The Son Of The Wind
If You're Not Gonna Leave Me (I'll Find Someone Who Will)

'Hearts On Trees' Track Listing:
Presbyterian Homesick Blues
Tank McCullough Saturdays
Hearts On Trees
Said Samson To Goliath
It's Way Too Cold For Snow
Schwaben Redoubt
The Year Of Living Dangerously

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