Monday, 11 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Phil Campbell, "Old Lions Still Roar"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/10/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast


“Old Lions Still Roar” CD//DD/LP track listing:

01. Rocking Chair (feat. Leon Stanford)
02. Straight Up (feat. Rob Halford)
03. Faith In Fire (feat. Ben Ward)
04. Swing It (feat. Alice Cooper)
05. Left For Dead (feat. Nev MacDonald)
06. Walk The Talk (feat. Danko Jones & Nick Oliveri)
07. These Old Boots (feat. Dee Snider)
08. Dancing Dogs (Love Survives) (feat. Whitfield Crane)
09. Dead Roses (feat. Benji Webbe)
10. Tears From A Glass Eye (feat. Joe Satriani)

The Review:

Phil Campbell has had quite a life after Motorhead- his Bastard Sons band, with his sons (!) made a good quality hard rock album and are touring pretty relentlessly. It is surprising, then that he has found time to record a solo album- one infused with some heavyweight guests; Rob Halford, Dee Snider, Nick Oliveri, Whitfield Crane, Ben Ward, Matt Sorum, Joe Satriani... the list quite literally goes on.

Make no mistake, Motorhead was a collaborative effort. The riffs and the arrangements on all those Motorhead albums post 1986? Campbell's (with Wurzel for the first nine years, of course) and Dee's. Lemmy was a lyricist, a melody writer and a songwriter, but Campbell put in the heavy lifting from “Overnight Sensation” onwards. It's no surprise, then, that the songs here are strong. They are also somewhat surprising.

Opener, “Rocking Chair” is an autobiographical tale of fulfilling destiny and played in a blues/country rock style... acoustically. After that, the swagger of “Straight Up” (Halford on vox) hits a sweet spot, Ben Ward pops up on the low slung “Faith in Fire” and smashes the ball out of the park- surely a bucket list job for Ward, being as he is a huge (literally and metaphorically) Motorhead fan.

The guests keep coming. The riff on “Swing It” is great- pure attitude- and the vocal from Alice Cooper is just as good. Golf has never before sounded this rock n roll. Things slow down on “Left For Dead”; bluesy vocal from Nev Macdonald- for me, it is a lesser track and perhaps reminiscent of the early 90's Motorhead penchant for a ballad, but as Nick Oliveri guests on “Walk The Talk” with its  barrelling groove, all is right again.

Dee Snider puts in an athletic performance for “These Old Boots” which is another mid tempo rocker with a big chorus and a big cowbell. There is old Motorhead collaborator Whitfield Crane on “Dancing Dogs”- with a surprisingly dark and grunge like feel and Wales' own Benji Webbe on the piano led “Dead Roses”! As a ballad it is a winner and nothing like what you might expect from the ex-Motorhead man. It's straight faced and all the better for it.

By the time the tenth and final track, “Tears from a Glass Eye” smoothly spins out of your speakers, you'll probably have a view about this album.  It's a wistful instrumental and one of the best things on the record. It's not a Motorhead album, that's for sure; the tempos are conservative and with half the album surprisingly quiet and restrained it's quite a curveball for Campbell's fans. It's one I enjoyed hugely, though. There are some real insights into Campbell's psyche and his musical loves and inspirations. He delivers wonderful guitar playing throughout and no small amount of great songwriting. For any fan of his work with Motorhead, it's a must. For any fan of any of the artists featured, well, give it a try. You'll be surprised at the very least and more than likely impressed.

“Old Lions Still Roar” is available HERE


Band info: Official