Former President goes it alone. With a little help from his friends.
Cards on the table. There are certain phrases that give you a huge chance of getting reviewed on these pages. “Thin Lizzy” is one. “Springsteen” is another and so it goes, but when this dropped into the inbox with the words “first solo album from Presidents Of The United States Of America’s Andrew McKeag” well then, lordy, we’re interested.
Y’see its like this. PUSA’s first album remains one of MV’s absolute favourites and whilst Andrew McKeag wasn’t in the band when the premise that peaches were indeed put there by a man and came from a can was established (he didn’t join until 2004) then, he still spent 12 years bringing joy to people by playing it.
And, as if there weren’t enough reasons to like him already then check this: towards the end of the album, there’s a version of Mountain’s “Never In My Life.” Now, everyone with a brain knows Mountain rule. They rule even more when Brad Whitford and Zakk Wylde are playing on the track.
All of this, of course, means Andrew McKeag has won already, but his debut solo album is downright superb.
Opener “This Old Lie” marries big old bluesy licks with a Southside Johnny-esque horn section and mighty harmonies. It sets the marker down for timeless rock n roll that never really leaves the album throughout.
“Hurricane” is heads down, stomping stuff in the vein of Jared James Nichols recent one, “Champagne And Cigarettes”, with its brilliant organ (played by Ty Bailie of Katy Perry’s band) gets bonus points for recalling the mighty King King, while “Sinners Blues”, which is so ready to rock it actually starts with a solo, is so electrified it seems to be plugged into the mains.
That said, these musicians are too experienced and too talented not to take a left turn or two. The sun dappled and laid back “Ordinary Fool” has echoes of Blind Melon. “The Perfect Crime” doesn’t even bother with an intro, preferring to thump from the off, and “Spinning Planet” drips with funky soul.
This is a record that is rooted in the blues. “Sorry You’re Gone” is a fine example of that. Although “Love And Respect” is a quirky change, taking on “dirty tweekers” and being perhaps the only song in history to end with the thought that [I’m] “gonna ask the chicks at the record store if they’ll give my cat a home” and it does show how easily it could have been a folky singer/songwriter affair.
Perhaps the next one will be. The vibe of this one, though, is encapsulated brilliantly with the closing “Live A Little” (follow-up line: “before you die”) and this is a fun collection that finds the nothing to lose spirit perfectly.