Rock Allstars and Blackfoot drummer
Jakson "Thunderfoot" Spires (53) passed away Wednesday, March 16, 2005 from
a brain aneurysm,
Southern Rock Allstars-Crazy Again (Record Heaven Music/Sweden) 2001
of Sorrow" (4:15)
When I heard that members from my two favorite Southern Rock bands (Molly Hatchet & Blackfoot) had formed a new band I was anxious to get a copy. I tried several times to win a copy on eBay but eventually gave up and just ordered it directly from the band. I must admit I may have psyched myself out a bit because upon first listen I was disappointed. First of all, I was under the impression that Dave Hlubek had done some of the writing for this album. What I discovered was that ex-Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires wrote almost all the material with no song writing credits by Dave at all. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing as I am a Blackfoot fan too, but I suppose I was expecting something just a bit more energetic and perhaps more akin to "Flirtin with Disaster" or "No Guts No Glory." The cd starts off very strong with a rocking southern romp called 'Train of Sorrow," a song co-written by Rick Medlocke. After this, however, the music gets a bit more generic up until about cut five, which is the title cut where the band seems to cut loose a bit. Of course I also immediately loved the Thin Lizzy cover "Don't Believe a Word." A majority of the other songs just don't have the Southern draw that you would expect from Hatchet, Blackfoot, or even a band calling themselves the Southern Rock Allstars. I think a big part of this is the vocals just lack any charisma, or the southern charm of a Danny Joe Brown or Rick Medlocke. After the initial disappointment wore off, however, I listened several more times and must admit that the disc grew on me and I enjoy it quite a bit now. Still, I hope this independent disc is only a precursor of greater things to come by this band. I also hope that Mr. Hlubek begins to write some stellar material for these guys like he did with Hatchet. Here's to the future! The South will rise again!
Well, what do you know, an import version of the Allstars with a live bonus track. "Wishing Well" live features ex-Blackfoot guitarist Charlie Hargett on lead guitar and was recorded live in Orlando Florida and sound unbelievably familiar to Hargett and Spires's former band. The only other difference between this European version and the American version is the cover art, cd art and inlay are slightly different.
Southern Rock Allstars - Danger Road (independent) 2003
1. "Tough Situation"
SRA's sophmore album was a bit less of a surprise to me. I knew exactly what to expect from these veteran rockers. "Danger Road" is a melodic, rock 'n' roll outing. A times the music is slightly melancholy while at others the band kicks out the jams. "The Hill" for example has one of those extended jams at the end of the song that makes Southern Rock so appealing to me. The addition of Phil Lynott's "Southbound" made the disc that much more appealing to me. "Stump Jumpin'" is probably my favorite track on the CD. It features some great guitar work and is exactly what I want from a Southern Rock band. "Rock & Roll Dreams" is a hot rocker with a nice ending as well. "Someday We'll Be Free" is a heart felt, emotional song as well. I must confess, however, that I still find the vocals to be a bit lacking. It's not that Jay Johnson has a bad voice, it's just that he lacks the charisma of a Danny Joe Brown, Rick Medlocke, or Ronnie Van Zant. I was also hoping that Dave Hlubeck would have a bigger hand in the writing of the songs on this CD, but Dave's only credits are on the raucious "Stump Jumpin'" and album opener "Tough Situation." Still, with a line-up like SRA has, I can't help but find things that I enjoy about this disc. I am thankful that there are still good, bluesy, Southern Rockers around like SRA.
Southern Rock Allstars - Trouble's Comin' - LIVE! (Tazer) 2004
Two discs of pure Southern Rock nostalgia. OK, perhaps there is some new material here as well, but even the new material brings back the classic Southern sounds of old. SRA have been playing clubs and small theaters across the country for the last few years, so their sound is tight, which is to be expected for a band this rehearsed. The band features Jakson Spires' powerhouse drumming, Charles Hart's jammin' bass, Jay Johnson's rockin' guitar, Jimmy Farrar's classic vocals and Scott Mabrey on guitar. To make this disc even more of an allstar affair, there are tracks featuring longtime guitarist Dave Hlubek, as well as ex-Molly Hatchet guitarist Duane Roland, ex-Blackfoot guitarist Charlie Hargrett, Mike Estes, Pete Geddes and Mark Ray on keys. Mixed in with the SRA songs is a scattering of tracks made popular by some of the members originals bands; Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and more. The band's cover of "Mississippi Queen" is also excellent. Hatchet use to perform this song with Farrar as well and his gritty vocals work well with this track. One of the best tracks here is the Blackfoot classic "Highway Song." This live version featurs a choir from Muscle Shoals High School. Closing out the set is one of the bandıs most fun and bizzared choices for a cover, Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Night." Quite the enjoyable live set. To be honest, I actually prefer the live energy here to the studio discs.