On your marks…..
Sometimes you just know.
Sometimes you’ll go to a gig and watch the local support and immediately get the fact they are not destined to be local supports too much longer.
So it was with the Black Country’s very own The Bad Flowers.
Living in the West Midlands as I do, you couldn’t help but see the Cannock (the hometown of Glenn Hughes, no less) based trio. There they’d be, opening for Crobot, warming up The Sheepdogs crowd, or sharing the stage with German madmen The Picturebooks and each time, you’d look at them and think: yeah you’ve got it.
What they’ve got right now, is their debut album, and “Starting Gun” scores on two fronts. First, it will see all the local gig goers who have tipped them for stardom feel immensely proud that this time they’ve backed the winning horse, but second – and perhaps more importantly – it will propel The Bad Flowers into the kind of places where people who have never been to a gig in The Rainbow Courtyard, or The Flapper in Birmingham find their music.
To that end, lead single “Thunder Child” has already been playlisted by Planet Rock. Deservedly so, too. With a blues tinged heart, it soon morphs into the kind of arena rocker that The Cult might have managed in their heyday. What makes the song, though, is the absolute glee with which singer/guitarist Tom Leighton screams “yeah!” just before his solo, as if he’s been waiting to do this all his life.
In an interview on these pages recently, Leighton explained that the band had originally intended to record an album before this, but that they weren’t – in his words – “ready.” Work like “Lions Blood” is ample proof that they were right to wait. Taking absolutely no prisoners, it is infused with a rare level of confidence. ”Secrets” is another from the same school. Thunderous bass grooves from Dale Tonks are the bedrock on which it is built, but TBF have a swagger that is positively blooming here.
“Rich Man” walks the same kind of path as Tax The Heat, but perhaps finds something a little more earthy in it’s stomp, while the change of pace provided by the acoustic “I Hope” brings to mind that other great Black Country balladeer, Tyla from The Dogs D’amour.
They follow this up with “Lets Misbehave”, which you’d imagine is a party rocker, looking for nothin’ but a good time (as Poison might have said), but rather is a kind of power ballad, albeit one that builds to a quite superb conclusion.
If you are looking for hi-jinks, mind you, you won’t have to wait long. “Who Needs A Soul” is so desperate to rock that it starts with a solo, and it is so desperate to rouse the rabble it’s steals Beelzebub’s cigarettes by the end of the chorus.
And, if there’s a general feeling about this that The Bad Flowers aren’t so much ringing the doorbell politely waiting for you to answer, as smashing through the porch to get noticed, then “Be Your Man” is not about to take no for an answer, while the meaty riff to “Hurricane” is more than enough evidence to suggest, for the three of them (drummer Karl Selickis, like his bandmates, is in fine form throughout) this is a labour of love as much as blood, sweat and tears.
“…Gun” has no dips in quality, either, with 11 songs fired off, and if “I Don’t Believe” is the sound of a band with a total mastery of their aims, but also their craft, then “City Lights” showcases a band who has always dared to dream. One of the songs on their EP it has ended all the gigs we’ve seen them play. “Can’t afford the champagne, can’t afford the life,” sings Leighton, “I am just addicted to the city lights”.
They must feel within reach right now, because they are no longer waiting to be discovered in the Birmingham gig scene. Rather, The Bad Flowers stand right on the cusp. Their race is nowhere run. It’s not a sprint, either. They are good enough to do this over long distance. The “Starting Gun” is surely the sound of a band who are on their marks, ready to really go places.