by Paul Kerr
Following a blistering performance in Glasgow back in May, 2008, a new album from famed cowpunkers Jason & The Scorchers (their first since 1996) was awaited with bated breath. Would it pass muster? Would it rock with the verve and style they had as young bucks in 1982. Well, yes and no. There is plenty of high energy on this album but the sheer exuberance and quality which characterised their early releases like "Fervor" is replaced at times by an overreliance on guitarist Warner E. Hodges' fretboard that threatens to overwhelm the endeavour.
That said, there is much about this album that is great. The opening song, "Moonshine Boy" gallops from the start and "Getting Nowhere Fast" almost recaptures the early days with its catchy chorus and frantic delivery.
Aside from the rockers Jason Ringenberg and the crew serve up some more reflective moments with "Beat on the Mountain" - a tale of a miner's hardship - and "Mother of Greed," - Jason's family tree set to music - that show that the band can deliver the goods on mandolin and acoustic guitar just as well. Hodges' guitar skills are utilised to great effect on "Twang Town Blues" where he generates superb squalls and atmospheric backing behind Jason's spoken story of deceit and treachery in small town USA.
"Golden Days," a joyful romp where Ringenberg reminisces about his youth, is the best song here with a great tension and dynamic to it. It is almost equalled by the album closer, "We've Got it Goin' On" where they pummel through a frantic garage band delivery of the song at times sounding almost like The Fleshtones.
Expecting something as exhilarating as their early albums was probably a forlorn wish but, on this evidence, The Scorchers remain relevant and exciting. Indeed, to see how these songs are delivered live leaves one with bated breath yet again.