Rock ‘n’ Roll Gone Mad..
BluesWax Rating: 6 out of 10
Second Chance Pays Off
I have to admit, upon first listen I thought Rock ‘n’ Roll Gone Mad.. was just “OK.” With each subsequent listen, I grew a little fonder of this album. Killing Floor, a British band, was formed in 1968, and retains all four original members, Bill Thorndycraft, Mick Clarke, Bazz Smith, and Stuart “Mac” McDonald. Raspy and undeniably unique, Thorndycraft’s vocal style bestows a bit of attitude to everything he sings, not unlike Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, and Lemmy Kilmister. Dedicated to the late Hubert Sumlin, the album is composed of twelve original songs. It takes big doses of hard rock and blues, tosses in a few sprigs of late seventies punk, and exudes raw, unbridled madness.
Blues runs its course through this album, albeit with a little more “in your face” attitude. The topics all reflect angst of some sort. The opening track, “Rack My Brain,” questions the honesty of politicians with its simple, yet infectious rhythm. “Toxic Nipple (One Cigarette)” is quite interesting and a little on the dark side. It’s a daunting song about a man on his death bed because of smoking, who just wants one more cigarette before he dies. It’s bluesy like Robert Cray, but with traces of Nick Cave. Another strong blues selection is “Xenophobic Blues.” Thorndycraft breaks out his harmonica for this anthem against xenophobes, to add a bit more authenticity. The instrumental “Auntie Peggy’s Handbag” is also a nice treat featuring Mick Clarke on piano. When I hear a band cut loose on a track like this one, it gets my leg a bopping and puts a big ol’ smile on my face.
It’s hard to overlook the late-seventies punk influence on cuts like title track, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Gone Mad,” and “Dissatisfied.” The former, a quick-paced and hard-driving song, points out the common feelings we share that make us human. The latter is written in classic punk prose as a “Top 30 list” of things Thorndycraft is dissatisfied with. I love the hodgepodge of classic rock elements rattling around “I Tell You What Happened,” which starts out with this cool, funky little intro and melts into a Kinks-like ditty unloading details of a life of debauchery, drinking, drugs, and depression. The riffs threaded through this one are a bit reminiscent of those on “The Real Me” by Pete Townsend.
As I said earlier, I have grown fonder of this album after a few more listens. Music is weird that way. I’m glad I gave this album a second chance.
Phillip Smith is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
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