WKW – Men Of Steel: Album Review

The latest chapter in the Big Country story comes courtesy of Men Of Steel. You can see the headline now  – guitar duo unite with US fan as bandmate. Their first new music since 2013’s The Journey holds a few surprises.

Release Date:  February 2020

Label:  crowdfunded

Formats: CD

The two ‘W’s are Watsons. One is Bruce; co-founder of Big Country (and who bizarrely I last saw working with fellow Scot Fish), the other his son Jamie. The collaboration with American musician Thomas Kercheval carries on those BC traditions with three guitars blaring and a significant nod to their past.

With the Watsons continuing the fine tradition of Scots guitar music in the latest incarnations of Skids and Big Country, the connection with Kercheval has clearly inspired the new music. The latter, a fanatical BC fan seems to have been the perfect catalyst.

Not quite sure why they’re all pictured wearing surgical masks. Maybe a portentous hint of the as then unreported coronavirus. Regardless of the state of the health of the world, rock and roll always brings an injection of hope. And what better ray of hope than some driving guitar-based Celtic rock. Some will recognize familiar song titles as well as re-workings from 2010’s Another Anthem For The Damned album.

Yes, there may be much excitement amongst fans, but it’s likely to reach a particular intensity at the mouthwatering prospect of hearing two Stuart Adamson penned tracks. Troubled Man (Bruce’s “one of the best songs Stuart has ever written” a good selling point) doesn’t stray too far from its  original form. There’s a hint that musically this is more Knopfler that Celtic rock as it eases its way.

Nationwide is their version of a demo that Adamson wrote recorded with Skid sin 1977. It also features original Skids bassist Bill Simpson/Alex Plode who performed on the original demo, which adds a touch of authenticity. By contrast, it’s a real powerful punky ripper that shows the sort of crossover that Lemmy would highlight as rock, metal, and punk all being strange bedfellows.

Elsewhere amongst the remaining seven tracks, they mine the Scottish roots to a varying degree with the traditional Robbie Burns words on the rhythmically bouncy Killiecrankie in particular and Rose Red Sunset revving up those Gaelic/Celtic hooks. While the anthemic Big Country hits may be burnt into the brain, WKW offers a discreet update of the legacy.

Watch the video for the opening album track, Edison’s Last Stand (that looks like it features Manchester’s Gorilla venue) here:

WKW online:  Website / Facebook

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