Andy Fairweather Low & The Lowriders ‘Zone-O-Tone’ – album review

Andy Fairweather Low & The Lowriders ‘Zone-O-Tone’ (Proper Records)
CD/LP
Available now

Mention the name Andy Fairweather Low, inevitably and instinctively, one starts to think of Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and The Who. Despite the fact that his early days with Amen Corner in the 1960’s together with his own solo career brought him to prominence, his association with such British institutions and rock royalty found Fairweather Low becoming the ultimate sideman. His long association with Roger Waters’ post Floyd solo career in both the studio and live arenas has perhaps been as important a trusted partnership as any Waters has been involved with in his tempestuous career. While Water’s current lengthy run of ‘The Wall’ shows continues its steamroller path around the world, the chance for Andy to cut loose from his long time buddy has given him the chance to produce his first album since 2006’s ‘Sweet Soulful Music’ (which in itself was his first album in twenty six years, so be thankful for such a short wait).

Andy is accompanied on the album by The Lowriders, the band he put together in 2008, featuring drummer Paul Beavis, long standing associate Dave Bronze on bass and ‘new boy’ Nick Pentelow on saxes and clarinets. To their credit, they receive equal billing making this more of a band feel rather than a ‘solo’ project.

In his own words, the album contains a dozen new songs which he’s written, “inspired by the music of Stax and Atlantic Soul, The Four Aces, Josef Locke, Johnny Kidd, Lonnie Donegan, The Shadows and many more.” No more is the range of influences as obvious as on the opening ‘Dance On’ with its almost Duane Eddy characteristic twang and rock and roll rhythm and the stall has been set out with hearts clearly worn on sleeves that this is going to be a no bones nostalgic trip into the past. In fact the only thing missing from the likes of the lovely old time feel of ‘Love, Hope, Faith & Mercy’ are the crackles from the vinyl grooves as the record spins.

There are moments of added melancholy with the lounge jazz on ‘Let Me Be Your Angel’ where Nick Pentelow’s saxophone and clarinet skills are to the fore while the style of jazziness and swing to which Sting alluded in his early solo career crop up in ‘You’ll Never Beat The Devil’ and merge into a more soulful direction on the album closer ‘Blood Toys’.

Although the mood is generally relaxed and untroubled, the band do let loose a little on a couple of numbers, with ‘La La Music’ much harder hitting with it’s key line of being “a prisoner of my time”, as is the fuzzed guitar effect in ‘Breakin’ Chains’.

What’s really apparent form the album is that, with the utmost respect, this is a proper ‘old school’ record from a musician who is clearly rooted in some of the classic musical styles of the Twentieth Century. Just listen to the quirky Britishness of ‘Unclouded Day’ and ‘Mother Earth’ with their brass segments, and pop on the rose tinted specs, sit back, relax and appreciate the soundtrack from a time when life was much simpler!

Track List:

1. Dance On
2. Deep River Blues
3. Let Me Be Your Angel
4. Roll Ya Activator
5. Hard Way To Go
6. Breakin’ Chains
7. Love, Hope, Faith & Mercy
8. La La Music
9. Unclouded Day
10. Mother Earth
11. You’ll Never Beat The Devil
12. Blood Toys
13. Unclouded Day (slight return)

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