A hard-working band doing what they love most
In a time when live music has been forced to take a break, album releases have become an essential way for a band to continue to hold their audience’s attention, to stay active in the music scene, and to push their creativity. The Hellfire Club has attempted this with their latest offering ‘A Different Song’. This collective of musicians has committed 11 tracks to tape, many of which are live favourites. There are high octane moments, countered by tender ballads, all with an undercurrent of a hard-working band doing what they love most.
‘A Different Song’ kicks off with ‘1984’, a somewhat reflective rocker, which is reminiscent of The Rolling Stones at Muscle Shoals with a smattering of Albert Hammond. This 60s country-rock aesthetic is carried by a vocal which contains elements of Jagger’s vocal performance on ‘Far Away Eyes’. The band’s musical prowess is shown on ‘Autumn Leaves’, the laid-back vocals are pushed along by the blend of guitars and saxophone, the dual harmonised guitar solo that closes the track is something listeners will either love for its nod to country-rock giants such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles or perhaps find slightly clichéd. Pleasingly the band appears to have a sense of humour when it comes to these more obvious elements of their songwriting. The album does slow somewhat after this, the next handful of songs do not necessarily deliver on the promise that the first two tracks made. The lyrics can be a bit hit and miss in places, from a great line such as ‘ghosts and shadows follow me, leave them all behind’ on ‘Redwood’, to the less impressive line ‘tripped over my shoe’ on ‘Fragile’. Yet both songs have powerful instrumental moments including the beautiful sax’ solo on ‘Fragile’, and the effortless way the keys and harmonica slide into the acoustic guitar on the intro of ‘Redwood’.
The album does begin to regain some momentum onwards of ‘Hadn’t Been For You’ which provides a much-needed injection of soul and Motown moments to lift the record. The driving bass on ‘Red Dresses’ is a very tasteful accompaniment to the airy guitar riff, and the closing track, ‘Morning Train’ almost feels like a reprise of ‘Redwood’ which is a fantastic way to end the album. A special mention to Ivan Marples, whose saxophone provides some of the most memorable musical moments. It is clear what The Hellfire Club has aimed for on this record, but a lack of consistent lyrical content, and perhaps a poorly considered playing order, make for a somewhat patchy listening experience.