Do you believe in rock and roll ? R.Mutt do. Six years after the release of their last album – the well received Leash on Life – they finally return with a new record that builds on what went before, with some additional refinement provided by the assistance of producer Kevin Blackwell (Sassparilla) and for the mixing Chet Lyster who has worked with the Jayhawks. There’s been some internal changes in the band as well, alongside founder members Jim Dier and Ron Thornton there’s new
guitarist David Smolarek and new drummer Matt Schreier. Overall though everything that was said about Leash on Life (and that review is on the Americana-UK archive web site : here ) still holds true here – this is an album of more than solid blue-collar rock and roll stories. Screaming roars of vocals combine with raucous guitar and thumping that sucker down drums to provide music that begs for answers to many fundemental questions. Such as, do your knees still work? Can you still punch the air enthusiastically? Do you want to drink beer in a music venue and just forget about that drag job you have to do to make ends meet? If this relates at all to your situation then R.Mutt are the very band that will get you bouncing around a room in equal measures drunk and happy.
It’s all there on Pushing Tin, which expounds the eternal truths about work “Now it’s early to bed and early to rise / somehow each morning it comes as a surprise / and the last one up is the last one in again / when you’re pulling up and pushing tin”, whilst the guitar leads off with sinewy blues rock riffs, and then the realisation comes that sometimes the only way to win in life is to give in “Lights come up again just like they have before / I’m searching for my bearing in the cracks of a bar room floor / I choke back my pride and the cold wind hits my face / I walk down the road to your place”. And, whilst not straying far from a winning formula, some of that Jayhawks magic has rubbed off as well – there’s more than a hint of jangle in the guitar on Glass Citadel, which marks a personal insight “now that I’ve slowed down and thought about it I’ve realised, at last, that I was so unfair” and a request for a reconciliation wrapped up in the lyrically brilliant “let’s stop all this guffing it’s yielding next to nothing”. Mystery is a similarly superb song, where signs and portents spell out only one desired outcome – that the guy gets together with the girl. This is the essence of rock and roll, and it’s haunting. Add in the sinuous, bass burbling Captain Sidewinder and the false fronted Hypocrite and you have more than enough to make this an album worth searching out.
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R.Mutt return – with maybe a little more polish in places but all – thank goodness – still bound up with a heart beating time with the spirit of rock.