Black Star Riders – Wrong Side Of Paradise: Album Review

Album #5 from hard rock outlaws Black Star Riders packed with a confident swagger.

Release Date: 20th January 2023

Label: Earache

Format: CD / digital / vinyl (with multiple options…)

A band with old-school values. No waiting several years for follow-up albums or stories of fans longing for tour news. These boys have a work ethic that sets the standard, recalling the annual album-tour glory days. Never is there a finer example of a hard-working band led by a hard-working, whip-cracking marshall than Ricky Warwick.

With an iconic frontman who possesses such a distinctive delivery, the boundaries between Warwick’s solo work and the Black Star Riders band output might be somewhat blurred. However, with Black Star Riders he has faithful compadre Robbie Crane plus lineup tweaks in guitarist Sam Wood and Zak St John on drums. Tough, bluff and raw are the common threads; plus a smidgeon of lovable roguishness. Oh and passion aplenty with one further guarantee – that Ricky and the boys aren’t going to stint on telling it like it is: “I can only write about my own personal experiences, my families, my friends and how I see a world that is unraveling and changing faster than we can comprehend,” says Ricky. “That being said, I’m a firm believer in the power of positivity.” The clear blue sky and idyllic tropical beach that bursts through the hole blasted in the barbed wire topped wall adds a visual confirmation.

And the positivity, the determination and the fight, shine through in a series of highlights whose sway and swagger give heart and hope. The quartet duly swings and swaggers through Pay Dirt and Burning Rome where on the latter they almost replicate a Big Country bagpipe guitar sound. The power stomp on Hustle where some harp adds a bluesy feel to the weight of the riff while reinventing an old phrase in the lyric: “All good things come to those who hustle.” The power of hustling indeed…

Retaining a stop-start arrangement and twin guitar lines on Better Than Saturday Night keeps a tenuous link to the roots of Black Star Riders as does album closer Don’t Let The World (Get In The Way), matching power chords with sharp lead lines and an affirmation of the positivity he speaks about – “Quit hanging on yesterday,” indeed. And while Green And Troubled Land might sound like some recipe for an aching lament, it’s carried by a driving romp and roll, there’s a brilliant- and pretty faithful – version of The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses. Made for Black Star Riders you might think.

Brooding and bluesy – vaguely ominous and threatening – album closer, This Life Will Be the Death Of Me fades out with a defiant “divided we stand, united we fall” chant and an apt opportunity to ponder on how it’s hard to believe it signals (and celebrates) ten years of Black Star Riders. With the return of Scott Gorham (guitar) and Jimmy DeGrasso (drums) to the line up (plus Michael Munroe and Phil Campbell’s Bastard Sons on the bill), the imminent tour promises to be the finest of Hard Rock spectacles.

Here’s the latest of the four singles – Catch Yourself On:

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