Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Sensational Alex Harvey's New Band

Eddy Bamyasi

This album represents quite a departure from Alex Harvey’s rock and blues roots. The vocals are still there of course and are stronger than ever making it unmistakably Harvey but the musical arrangements are more involved displaying a wide range of dynamics both across and within songs resulting in moments of power and beauty. An approach that was perhaps attempted with less success on the preceding album, the less cohesive Rock Drill.

However Harvey has literally gathered a new band here. Although SAHB were no slouches you get the impression he has sourced some crack session musicians here from the rock and jazz field.

This is immediately evident with the instrumental opener which showcases new horn man Don Weller’s saxophone breaks which remain prominent throughout the album. Meanwhile the guitarist Matthew Cang trades in clean solos with less emphasis on the heavy riffing of Zal Cleminson, and the bass player and drummer underpin a very tight band. Keyboardist Tommy Eyre remained as the only surviving member from the last SAHB album.

There are two epics which with their slow piano based build up recall former glories like The Last of The Teenage Idols or Give My Compliments to The Chef; Back in the Depot, and the save the whales anthem The Whalers:

Murder in the silver foam
Grab the gold and sail back home
Slaughter cubs and mummy too
Here’s a perfume just for you

There she blows
See the spout
Money is what it’s all about
In leopard skins and tiger shoes

We all sing the dog food blues
Sling it on the rusty deck
Rip the sinew from its neck
You can’t complain, it’s fair enough
We kill it and you buy the stuff!

Both covers in the set are inspired — Shakin’ All Over and Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody. The latter would have been quite a fitting last hurrah for Harvey if the ill conceived The Soldier On The Wall had remained in the vaults.

With an invigorated Harvey, brilliant musicianship, a strong song set, and crisp production, The Mafia Stole My Guitar is a return to form and stands up as Harvey’s last great (and often overlooked) album despite the absence of SAHB.


A full rundown of all of Alex Harvey's albums can be found at https://medium.com/6-album-sunday/the-sensational-alex-harvey-band-albums-ranked-worst-to-best-312ec8f11c45

About The Author

Eddy Bamyasi

Eddy is a music writer from Brighton, England, named after a Can record. Each Sunday he logs and reviews the albums that happen to be in his vintage Pioneer 6-CD magazine changer, amongst other things.

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