17 February 2010
by Shelly Marsden
Halcyon Times, the new album by Jason and The Scorchers, is a rare thing – an album which contains all the vibrancy and brilliance of their old and best work, 30 years later.
Legendary on the rock/country music scene, the group revolutionised country in the early 80s, going on stage with a Mohawk and playing a country song, at times when such a mix could land the performer in hospital!
They attracted fans as varied as their music, with everyone from The Sex Pistols to Bill Golden from The Old Ridge Boys coming along to see if these guys were for real. It was their revolutionary 1983 release Fervor, a six-track EP that saw people take these crazy hillbillies seriously.
Fast forward, oh, a few decades to 2008, when, the American Music Association bestowed the band with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Buzz about the guys was growing again but they had no money to cut a record.
A chance meeting in a restaurant with Music Producers Institute founder Steve Fishell led to him offering studio time for free if they’d allow people in on the sessions. By February 09 the songs were written, with Tommy Womack, Ginger from The Wildhearts and Dan Baird – who camped out at guitarist Warner Hodge’s place. By April, they were cutting the record.
The result, Halcyon Times, isn’t a nostalgic return to the group’s roots, but rather a creative adventure into the unknown showing a group of musicians that are at their peak. Full of bravado, opening track Moonshine Guy is about a man who “yells and roars/likes The Stones, hates The Doors”, while Mona Lee is a hugely exciting number.
Ringenberg rocks like he’s still a teenager and Snibb and Collins supplies that magic, rock and roll groove. There are graceful moments too, like the poetic Land Of The Free and Mother Of Greed, which takes you from North Wales in 1910 to modern-day Birmingham, Alabama.
Halcyon Days is the sound of a relentlessly great Nashville band not only celebrating three glorious decades of music, but continuing to push the creative envelope and in full command of their legacy.