Ricky Warwick – When Life Was Hard And Fast: Album Review

Ricky Warwick is a busy man. Always a pleasure though, to hear his earthy tones on the new solo release that holds a few surprises for the bonus disc seekers.

Release date: 19th February 2021

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Format: CD / DL / vinyl (coloured option via the NB website)

“The true spirt of rock n’ roll is a relentless pursuit that consumes me on a daily basis. Chasing after it, making this record was a race well run.” Fighting talk from Ricky Warwick who’s a rock and roll troubadour of the highest quality.

Since being thrown into the spotlight in the 2010 version of thin Lizzy and their subsequent evolution into the excellent (arguably better and certainly more consistent than Lizzy) Ricky Warwick has been unstoppable. His latest solo album finds him wanting “to create an album that had the simplistic melodies of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers charged with the electric hedonistic fury of Johnny Thunders And The Heartbreakers,” he says and though it might be his distinctive voice and his name on the tin, he’s assembled a crack band to help him hit the target.

BSR buddy Robbie Crane and Buckcherry’s Xavier Muriel are a formidable rhythm section with icing provided by the likes of guitarist/producer Keith Nelson, Ginger Wildheart, Andy Taylor (Duran Duran & Power Station) Luke Morley (Thunder), long term pal Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Dizzy Reed (Guns n Roses) and his own daughter Pepper on what he sees as the most personal track on the record, Time Don’t Seem To Matter. The latter released in a ‘couldn’t improve on the vibe and feel of the demo’ format. Sounds pretty good to these ears at any rate and provides the chance of a mid-album breather. Not only that, it serves to remind us that Ricky Warwick cuts the mustard even in unplugged/stripped back guise. Particularly poignant and insightful musings too and a ‘coming up on the rails’ contender as best (if not key) track of the album. More successful than the lo-fi (sung into the phone and if it ain’t broken why fix it) Clown Of Misery that punctuates the storming tide on the second half.

However, it’s the title track (Joe Elliott on vox too) that kicks off the album in a familiar style that could easily fit any of the Ricky Warwick projects. Singing of growing up in a land of blood and thunder, dreaming of rock and roll, it’s a tale that’s been well told, accompanied by a driving pace and cutting lead lines. The sound that launched a thousand ships and all that.

The guitar chug of Thunder’s Luke Morley dominates You Don’t Love Me Any More and we get another fizzer of a solo. Along with I’d Rather Be Hit, it’s a hard-rocking trio of cuts that provides a comforting warmth before a raw cover of Willy Deville’s Gunslinger that fits the bill perfectly. One that whets the appetite for anyone who might be seduced by the extra bonus disc of covers as an encore.

Keith Nelson’s superb slide guitar comes into its own on Still Alive, inspired by Ricky’s love for the neo-Western (surprisingly…) Hell Or High Water film and Fighting Heart I’d guess rivalled When Life Was Hard And Fast as a choice for lead single. Full of fist punching lyrics and attitude along the lines of “My fighting heart will never die/keeps beating on/is never wrong” etc, it’s a perfect partner to the easy groove on I Don’t Feel At Home where the Petty (and Springsteen) itches are scratched.

 In the words of Keith Nelson: “Ricky is a true Rock-n-Roll soul… he’s got incredible stories to tell and a unique way of telling them. It’s been an honor to be asked to partner and contribute to this record.” And true to form as ever, Ricky Warwick proves reliable, honest and delivers from the heart.

The bonus CD includes a clever nod to another upcoming release a week after this album in The Almighty’s Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t. Covering Dead Or Alive (you know the one…), Britney Spears might raise an eyebrow or open a mouth, but Johnny Cash, The Clash and Iron Maiden bring some balance as well as Elvis and Eddie Cochran.

Listen to the title track of the album here:

Ricky Warwick online: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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