REVIEW: TRAVELIN’ JACK – COMMENCING COUNTDOWN (2017)

Bringing the good times back 

Sometimes the best place to start is at the end. In this case, the final countdown, if you will.

“Journey To The Moon” ends this 10 song collection – the second from Berlin’s Travelin’ Jack –  and bounces along on the back of a strident groove from the engine room of Steve Burner and Montgomery Shell (we’ll bet you these aren’t the names their mums call them…) but it’s the chorus that hits you and in many ways sums up the album.

“I am a Travelin’ Jack/I want the good times back/ the only thing you need to lose is that blue attitude” sings Alia Spaceface (likewise, this probably ain’t on her birth certificate) over something that approaches gleeful.

It might be the very conclusion, but finally they’ve got lift off.

Seemingly on a mission to land somewhere in the late 1970’s on the planet inhabited by Thin Lizzy and The Scorpions, there is something at once familiar and comforting about “….Countdown”. With much more groove about it than their debut, songs like “Land Of The River” have a kind of classicism about them.

Not that this is mere pastiche, more an appreciation perhaps of the music they love, they do things with a more eerie, metal air than most classic rock bands.

“Metropolis” has a hint of violence about it, before settling into a AC/DC type groove in the verse, but oddly this is not a band that is easy to pin down, given that the major hook here is a pure metal one.

“Keep On Running” – not a cover – rockets along on the back of a mighty bass, and there is something funky about the way Spaceface delivers the track, and whilst you hesitate to use the cliché and liken them to Blues Pills, this is one of the few times on the record that it is apt to do so.

Indeed, you can’t really say TJ sound like anyone else at all. For example, there are elements of Maiden and Deep Purple about “Cold Blood” but it never strays too much into the orbit of either.

A confident band, when Spaceface intones at the start of “Galactic Blue”: “Hey I got a feeling, boy, and that feeling knows that I am right” you would be a fool to argue with her, and on the one occasion they slow things down fully – the soul drenched, bluesy opening to “Time”  – they show their skill by switching gear effortlessly to make it one of the heaviest affairs here.

“Miracles” looks for trouble and seemingly has no trouble finding it as the singer finds her range,  and there’s never a bad time for twin guitars, “What Have I Done?” brings them a barrow load.

There is an unsettling quality to Travelin’ Jack, largely because you never know what’s coming next. “Fire” merrily skips off down a Dio type path, and there is a suggestion that they could turn into one of those occult metal bands in the blink of an eye.

That might be for the future. For now it’s about fun and four people playing music they love. “Commencing Countdown” is a fine trip. Blast off might await.

Rating 7.5/10