Simon Stanley Ward & The Shadows Of Doubt “Rocket In The Desert”

Independent, 2024

Modern rock n’roll served up with energy, charm and love.

Album cover artwork for Rocket In The Desert by Simon Stanley Ward & The Shadows Of DoubtSimon Stanley Ward and his band The Shadows Of Doubt have been together since 2013 and recorded their first album ‘Simon Stanley Ward’ in 2015 and ‘Songs From Various Places’ in 2019. They perform regularly on the London Americana circuit and have performed at the Maverick and Truck festivals, amongst others. This, their third album, was recorded in very sad circumstances after their beloved bass player Geoff Easeman, who also played with The Arlenes, told them that he was dying but wanted to contribute to the record. The rest of the group recorded eight songs in two days, the tapes were rushed to the hospice where Geoff was staying and he fought pain and exhaustion to add his bass parts. His son, Richard, added bass to the final two songs a few months after his funeral.

‘I’m a Worrier’, the first track, despite having a Mexican flavour has a beat which reminds you of ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’ from The Clash’s legendary ‘London Calling’ album. This sets the tone of the whole album, which updates rock n’roll to the present day in a very passionate and enthusiastic but also very English way, just as The Clash did all those years ago.

In a similar vein, the boisterous second track ‘This Ain’t It’, with its standard rock n’roll riff is reminiscent of Dave Edmunds, who loves this genre of music as Joe Strummer loved it. The self-deprecating words, about the song not being the hit that Ward wants to write are a bit harsh- it probably won’t be a hit but is a good song with a melody that sticks in your head, like the other songs here.

The lyrics written by Ward are often quirky and about unusual subjects, but they give the album a charming, original feel and are just generally good fun. ‘Rocket In The Desert’ is about the plant growing in the Sahara (camels come from miles to eat it, apparently) and the bluesy ‘Bigfoot Baby’ is about the monster. The earworm ‘Designated Driver’ has a dubious subject for a song but it works very well as a tribute to those selfless individuals and has a hint of romance: “on the highway of love”.

‘Deadheading’, with its wah-wah guitar, covers that well-known gardening technique and ‘Terpsichorean Footwear’ has a lot more wah-wah, a great chorus and a tale of getting on the dancefloor and showing your moves.

There are words of love here, too. Ward wrote songs about friends in lockdown and ‘Tony’ made it on the album, with its tales of the good times they have had and the great lines “you hug me so tight/yeah one time you bruised my ribs”. It goes a bit Blondie at the end with some French that Ward had specifically learned. ‘September Comes’ is about looking forward to meeting loved ones when lockdown ends. The final track ‘Loving You’, a rollicking Pogues-like song with fiddle, was written after Geoff died and after Ward became a father. It’s a song about eternal love: “This time tomorrow I’ll be loving you”

They wrote this about the album: “We are so happy to have been part of Geoff’s life. It was a very fun part! A happy place. On this album you will hear us all together. Full of energy”. Yes, that’s right- it’s a happy recording, full of fun and life.



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