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March 2010

Looking back now it seems to me/that this old life’s been good to me/been hard times but I can’t complain/I would go on back and do it all again’, Golden Days, Jason & The Scorchers, 2010.

Nearly 15 years after Clear Impetuous Morning, the blazing sequel to the seminal Lost & Found, the Scorchers have regrouped, with a new rhythm section, to release their sixth LP proper, Halcyon Times. The measure of a record has changed out of sight in that time of course. It’s individual songs above the sequence and the flow, and while that won’t sit well with Jason, who’s always at pains to reference the value of the vinyl days at live shows, the album manages to deliver choice cuts for the discerning downloader and a telling whole too.
Shorn of Perry Baggs’ backing vocals they might be, but guitar man Warner E Hodges lights a fire in Ringenberg that his solo career, even his lauded turns as Farmer Jason, just can’t match.

As the title suggests, there are plenty of nods to the past. Opening track, the rocking Moonshine Guy, directly references Hot Nights In Georgia, Mona Lee reminds me of the band’s 1986 take on 19th Nervous Breakdown, and Beat On The Mountain is not a million miles from 1989 original Bible And A Gun. But Halcyon Times is truly independent. There’s no record company pressure, no party line, and it’s all the better for that, for taking the EMI out of Americana.

The lyrics are political, with a small p. The trials of immigration, Vietnam, strikes, rites of passage are all in the mix as Jason spits out his balls of rock ‘n’ roll fire, Gettin’ Nowhere Fast/We’ve Got It Goin’ On, and plays emotions like a six string bass on glorious, maudlin moments like Days Of Wine And Roses. He’s a real storyteller, a cow punk Graham Greene, and his words are embellished by a band in the zone. Jason & The Scorchers might have done their Saturday night albums, but Halcyon Times is a sure thing for any fine Sunday morning.