Tuesday, 15 December 2015

My Top Ten Albums Of 2015 - Number Six

The older you get, the more you lament the fact that "they don't make 'em like they used to"*. And you recall the albums of your youth with a deeper fondness than they deserve in some cases. But the artists in questions (if they're still around) are either shadows of their former selves, or they've grown and matured (and their sound has done the same). When I was younger, I loved 70s & 80s American rock - obviously Bruce and Steinman-era Meat Loaf, but also John Cougar Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Bob Seger and, yes, even Bon Jovi. None of those guys make records today that sound like the ones they made in the 80s (with the possible exception of Jon BJ, but he really needs to grow up), and I didn't expect to ever hear a new record from a younger artist that reminded me of those days...

...until I came across Will Hoge. Although Hoge is classed as a country artist, his latest album is deeply rooted in 80s American rock, so I shouldn't have been surprised to discover he's exactly the same age as me. (So... not that young, then, but not in his 60s like most of the guys named above.) He's obviously raided his record collection to create Small Town Dreams, but the occasional sense of homage doesn't stop this being one of the catchiest albums I've heard all year.

The album opens with a classic Springsteen sentiment turned on its head. Here, the small town teenager who was so desperate to escape the sticks returns home older and wiser, and proud to have "grown up around here". Track 2 nails Hoge's plan with a title referenced above (*)...
Story after story
Of all your faded glory
Is all I ever hoped to live up to
I know as I get older
I'm standing on your shoulders
Trying to be just like you...
But they don't make them like they used to
'Better Than You' is the track that introduced me to Hoge (courtesy of Bob Harris), although vocally he sounds more like Elvis Costello on this one (admittedly, Elvis in his Americana phase). Americana is the word here, from the small town snapshots of 'Middle Of America' to the best song Jon Bon Jovi never wrote ('Guitar Or A Gun' - full of Jovi-isms, right down to a guest appearance from Jesse James). If occasionally the record slips into pastiche ('Just Up The Road' opens with the title followed by '...there's a road that leads to another road'... which almost sounds like the Flight of the Conchords doing Springsteen), it's forgivable when the standard is set so high elsewhere. The closing track, 'Til I Do It Again' starts out like 90s Bruce but then kicks into a tongu-in-cheek Steinman-esque chorus that Meat Loaf would kill to get his hands on in 2015...
Oh my, hear the church bells ring
Saturday night spilled into Sunday again
Tell you I'm sorry and I know it's a sin...
It's the last time I do it... 'til I do it again
 So, no, they don't make 'em like they used to. But every now and then... they come damned close.

Next, Number 5... including a Wham! tribute with plenty of elbow grease...

1 comment:

  1. great top ten man!
    check out this other great top ten http://top10items2016.blogspot.com/


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