THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO... RHABSTALLION Back In The Saddle (Golden Core/ZYX Music)
If you read any of the reviews of Brofest 2020 you’ll have noticed that Rhabstallion were tipped in several of them as the band of the festival, and rightly so, in my opinion. The set they played on the Saturday afternoon was nothing short of astounding. Originally really just known for a single (1981’s ‘Day To Day’ 7”) and the track ‘Chain Reaction’ on the ‘New Electric Warriors’ NWOBHM comp, the band had fallen off the radar somewhat until reforming in 2018. Following Brofest, one thing led to another, as it inevitably does, and not long after the festival the band were offered a deal with Golden Core/ZYX. The result is ‘Back In The Saddle’, a thirteen-track CD / sixteen track double LP, recorded by the band which, in guitarists Stuart Toddington and David Thompson, bass guitarist Graham Hooper and drummer Jack Himsworth, boasts four of the band’s founder members, with Andy Wood, who handled vocals and guitar duties from 1981 to 1984, front and centre.
Rhabstallion Brofest 2020
Rhabstallion’s strengths are a combination of virtuoso playing and a clutch of really, really catchy songs. That’s not to say that’s they’ve sacrificed heaviness for melody; not at all. What these boys do is lovingly combine both elements, creating beautifully-crafted songs which hit you like a ton of bricks but still leave you humming them from your hospital bed. Songs like ‘Driving Seat’ and that first single ‘Day To Day’ are instantly accessible from the off, and the guitar work across the board is exemplary: check out ‘Nowhere Left To Fall’ – just one cut plucked at random – for the proof of the pudding. The other key weapon in the Rhabs’ lads arsenal is some absolutely beautiful harmony guitar work which is used to great effect across the board (but possibly to its best in ‘Sioux Child’). And if that’s not all, the ever-reliable Jan Cyrka pops up to lob a couple of solos into the pot.
Rhabstallion and friends...
The bonus for vinyl lovers, who, face it, usually get a raw deal, is ‘The Lost Years’ EP: the final side of the LP is given over to four older tracks, lovingly reshaped by the band some forty years after they were originally written. Opening with ‘Chain Reaction’, a revamped version of the ‘New Electric Warriors’ song, the record continues with the storming ‘Stranger Stranger’ (a track which does appear on the CD) and ‘Shock & Roll’ (which together would have made up both sides of the follow-up single to ‘Day To Day’, had things gone to plan). ‘You’re To Blame’ – previously only available as a live bonus on their 1994 ‘Day To Day’ CD retrospective – wraps things up. A classy album from a classy band, ‘Back In The Saddle’ is well worth exploring. Trust me on this.
© John Tucker April 2021