Pearl Handled Revolver: This Mountain Waits (King Mojo Records)
Since their 2011 debut long-player, ‘Colossus’, things have continued to take an upward spiral for Pearl Handled Revolver. Martin Haslam listens in for Louder Than War.
Regular positive national press reviews; acclaimed live performances; having ‘Rattle Your Bones’ on Classic Rock’s cover cd. There are currently a handful of rock bands being feted by the glossy rock press as being the real deal; tipping a hat to the past, but with memorable tunes and a distinct personality. Mentioning no other names (but they’re American), they all seem to spend more time on the image, neglecting the tunes. So, if you really love rock music, Pearl Handled Revolver are for you.
Their second album starts with ‘Do It Again’, and we’re off to a great start. A hefty riff, with a healthy dose of organ behind it, I’m guessing this is a great set opener. They’ve had more than enough Doors comparisons already; the component instruments are there, but the sound is quite different. Maybe because they’re British, I don’t know. Certainly no 6th form poetry here!
‘Hello Mary’ follows; a more laid-back groove. ‘My Woodbine hangs like a broken arm’, sings Lee Vernon. A salacious tale, told with dirt under its nails. More Canvey Pier than Redondo beach, and all the better for it.
‘Johnny’s In The Basement’ has a mob chorus, berating the world financial crisis, or maybe just individual struggle. A heavy instrumental end conveys the weight of the situation.
‘Rattle Your Bones’ is more sassy. An insistent, sleazy riff. I can hear why it made the Classic Rock cover cd. Hopefully, Planet Rock are playing this regularly. I do.
‘Blind’ takes a subtle, psychedelic turn. A longer musical workout, it gels thanks to Lee’s vocals complimenting the music, allowing for space and shade. Less is often more, but not many singers seem to understand this.
‘The Red, White And Blues’ starts with a blast of Lee’s blues harp, before nailing the groove. Swirls of organ from Simon Rinaldo, the dependable but clever bass lines of Oli Carter; he also plays guitar. This has shades of early Purple, possibly due to the high level of musicianship throughout. The songs come first. Other bands please take note.
‘Josey’ mellows things. ‘She knows just how to guide your star…’, ode to an ageing beauty queen with her own wisdom. Restrained, late night mood music.
‘Hourglass’ stretches the format. Funky yet expansive, it sets the scene for ‘Rabbit Hole’, a harder edged slice of psych-rock. If so inclined, you could head-bang to it. Heavy, bluesy yet thoroughly authentic, in less assured hands this would be clunky. You can smell the patchouli, but there’s a place for that when it’s done this well.
‘You Got It Wrong’ has Lee testifying ‘the Devil take your uppers and your alcohol, love is the poison that’ll drop you all’, like a grubbier Jim Jones (no offence Lee). A faster, snappy number, held together in part by Chris Thatcher’s inspired drumming and some neat slide guitar from Andy Paris.
‘Honeycomb’ rounds things off nicely like a warming nightcap, then cleverly builds to a climax. ‘This mountain waits…for a landslide’. Pensive, melancholy and beautifully played. Special mention should go to Simon Rinaldo’s production throughout, showing just what a talent he is. Pearl Handled Revolver are showing what they are capable of; well-crafted rock songs with soul, power and flair. ‘Colossus’ was a great debut, but, if this is anything to go by, the band have realised that they have something very special.
All words by Martin Haslam. More work by Martin on Louder Than War can be found here.