Red on Red on Red
I was watching Hail Hail Rock n Roll the other night... 'Keef' Richards and Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton and Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Etta James to name but a few... and I thought geeeez where did all that brilliance go??? Of course we still have the DVDs and the vinyl (at least I do!!) and the Cds and mp3s but we've kinda lost that rawness of truly inspired rock and roll! That's the kind of thought that I got into until I took a quick break to check some emails. To my horror... a reminder informed me that the CD I'm about to review came to our office sometime in OCTOBER!!!! Now things can get delayed folks but dear me October!!! It would appear that some foooooool had taken The Four Degrees CD and stuck it next to a Three Degrees CD (remember them??) in a completely obscure hiding place... still beetroot... my skin began to relax as I hastily wrote to the guys responsible for this album with the promise that the review would be sorted next night!!! And so... here it is... and what a monumentally superb CD it is especially after I'd seen Hail Hail on the telly and especially as I'm a fool for rock and roll when it's done properly! One last look around is a great Little Rock and roll tune that has your toes tappin and your head nodding just like it did when you had your first real glimpse into the core of brilliantly played and performed rock and roll. The arrangements follow the tried and tested formulas perfected over the years by some of the true greats of rock and roll but what makes this particular offering that bit more attractive to the ears and pointy toed shoes is the sheer faithfulness to the genre. It's a long time since I heard rock and roll this good! You're Alright In My Book shows off the advantages of enhanced technologies while preserving again, the strengths of the genre. Watch out for the smart bass playing that's given magnificent emphasis from the astonishingly tight drum work! I particularly like the cleverness in the lyrics and the lead vocals and harmonies are especially well produced! Red On Red On Red is truly a very very good example of smart songwriting with it's half Elvis Costello half John Hiatt kinda delivery and it's expresso guitar and bass work, the song exudes excellence from four guys who had nothing better to do but to be completely unutterably excellent! So Tell Me Please on the other hand, concentrates a little more meaningfully on the musicianship and oh deary deary me are these guys very adept at their roles and responsibilities as musicians! The song reminds me a little of those wonderful little pop songs of the mid to late sixties that got played to death in the summer that we never got tired of! A brilliant song that I'd love to see live! She's Rock'N'Roll To Me delivers another portrait of the late sixties/early seventies with a hint of what was happening on the West Coast during that golden little era. Vocals are magnificent in a song that's really pretty in it's arrangement and in it's engineering and to tell you the truth, we'd expect little else from these guys who really do know a thing or two about engaging an audience! Watch out for the superb guitar work... knocks ya sideways and back over the coffee table again! Mary (Can You Help Me Remember?) is delivered a little like the UK's XTC from the early eighties and a little like another band that I absolutely cannot remember (the bass line seems vaguely familiar but I'm too tired to go wreaking havoc with my memory right now!). Either way, The Four Degrees have produced a superb little track and you'll love the arrangement... Oh my God,... it's the Byrds... So you wanna be a rock n roll star that bares the resemblance!!! Yep... memory in tact but still a brilliant song! Saying Goodbye comes by with some nice fingerwork on the fretboard that becomes mesmerizing before the vocals hit home quite a few bars later. I like it when accomplished self-achievers in music do good and the Four Degrees have done very good on this one! Love the harmonies and Rickenbacker styled sounding guitar!! Pale Horse is yet another rather refreshing example of this band's 'superbment' in musicianship but it also highlights the sheer imaginative scope that the band is evidently familiar with. Keep an eye on how well the drums keep up with the often irregularly fixed timings... great work from a solid drummer! Johnny And The Numbers meanwhile, brings back those pointy toe tapping shenanigans that we were first introduced to at track one! Reminds me very much of the kinda thing I played when I first engulfed an audience back in 1976 so I can tell you all that these guys would have had great fun working on this one! Performing it live would be a real buzz and I'd bet half a dollar this ends up at the end of the night when the party's in full swing! Watch out for that extra faithful semi-acoustic sound on the guitar front! And The Feeling's Alright is a chirpy little number that's actually quite captivating. I've decided that the real brunt of the work that strongly supports The Four Degrees 'sound' lies especially in the guitar and drum work followed closely by the bass and lyrics... it's all very strong commercially orientated dance music throughout and I have to repeat the very strong desire to see the guys live! The Loneliest Road In America, alas, is the last track on this electrifyingly wonderful retro viewable album. I particularly love the guitar and vocals on the opening and the finely and sensibly balanced additional rhythms that occur a little later in the song! It's a nice song that provokes thought and emotion and quite a pat on the back to the lyricist! I like The Four Degrees... of all rock and roll orientated bands I've come to know over the years, this is one that would be an absolute must to see live and an absolute must for your CD/mp3 collection! Colin Lynch - March 20 2007 02/02/2007, Johnny And The Numbers #3 on Radiowave internet Adult Hits/AAA Adds and Airplay chart. 02/02/2007, Johnny And The Numbers #30 on Radiowave internet Adult Hits/AAA Top Play Increases chart. 'We love the song.' says BlueskyFM in London in referring to Johnny And The Numbers. BlueskyFM in London calls, So Tell Me Please 'A great song.' 11/16/2006, So Tell Me Please #23 on Radiowave internet Adult Hits/AAA Top Play Increases chart. 11/18/2006, So Tell Me Please #18 on Radiowave internet Adult Hits/AAA Prime Movers chart 11/27/2006, The Loneliest Road In America #41 on Radiowave internet Adult Hits/AAA Prime Movers chart George Howard, past president of Rykodisc, one of the world's largest independent labels, founder of Tectonic Sound, and Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music states, 'Finally had a few minutes of peace to listen to your CD - The Four Degrees. Man there's some fine playing and singing going on there! Love the lead off track - kind of creedence-y - that's high praise. Dug track 5 (she's rock and roll) a lot too, but they're all really great!' In commenting on another of the tracks, The Loneliest Road In America, Howard says, 'Beautiful guitar part (I'm a sucker for a repeated melody figure over a chord change). The vocals and feel are wonderful!' The Four Degrees have been playing music since their childhood, learning well the lessons of their trade by performing in numerous bands over the years. While pursuing careers as professionals, they have kept their love for music alive. Six years ago, the forces of fate began to bring the Four Degrees together and a new band was formed. Since then, the band has taken on a momentum all it's own and has been rapidly building a following of people, young and old, who love the sound these guys deliver. The songs the band has written for their new CD combine energy, good sense of melody, catchy hooks, and strong vocals and musicianship. Lyrically, they explore themes relevant to the human condition: launching grown children into the world, looking forward and looking back, life, death, old love, new love, anger and forgiveness, as well as, loneliness and disillusionment, 'all passion and glory since faded away and dreams lost in the gray, on the loneliest road in America.' It's been said The Four Degrees have a knack for 'making the old sound new and the new sound old'. Classic! We invite you to give the band and it's new CD a listen for yourself.