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ROADHOUSE Dark Angel (2011)


The fact that, 11 albums in, Roadhouse remain an unfamiliar name must say something. The reason being that in days of yore (think Brinsley Schwarz) Roadhouse would have been labelled a 'pub rock' band. No disgrace in that - there were some great bands around in the early seventies that simply never had that 'je ne sais quoi' to propel them into the major league.

And that describes Roadhouse, an honest Americana style blues rock band built around the fretboard skills of guitarist Gary Boner, to a tee. But the man simply spreads himself too far.

His vocal style is the same as that of Pendragon frontman Nick Barrett (another band who may have benefited from a dedicated lead vocalist) and although he does at least share lead vocal responsibilities with a number of younger female vocalists, the constant rotation doesn't make for one obvious focal point. And while he has all the licks and chops you could ever want, he doesn't appear to have a clear style of his own.

Which brings us to the material. In short, it's derivative. Now you might say 'What in rock isn't?' but it's hard to listen to Roadhouse without playing 'spot the influence' whether it be Hendrix (the epic Dark Angel), Santana (So Over You), Billy Gibbons, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, or any number of others. And do we really need another cover of T Bone Walker's Stormy Monday?

Which all sounds a bit hypercritical but if you were to catch Roadhouse live (preferably after a few pints of strong ale somewhere like, say The Blues Rock weekend in Skegness) Dark Angel leaves me in no doubt that I'd be blown away. Everything about the album suggests they'd be one hell of a live act. But then, isn't that what pub rock was all about?


Review by Pete Whalley

Interview: 14 October 2011
Camera: Eric Harvey
© 2011 Pete Feenstra/GRTR! All rights reserved.

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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