JOHN WAITE - review added 13th January 2011
Album Review: Rough & Tumble (2011)
For fans of: Rock... and looking a bit lairy on your album cover
John Waite is one of THE legends of rock. He's had success - proper, big chart success - with bands, and as a solo artist, and he's still performing and recording...seemingly with as much passion and talent as ever.
"Rough and Tumble", much of which was written with Matchbox 20 guitarist/songwriter Kyle Cook, was recorded partly in Nashville. The line-up of musicians involved is long, but along the line it includes members of John's touring line-up.
The album features, alongside John on lead vocals and Kyle Cook on guitars, bass, keys, programming, and harmony vocals, Luis Maldonado and Shane Fontayne on guitars, Tim Hogan and David Santos on bass, Mike Webb on Hammond B3, Fred Eltringham, Rodger Carter and Billy Wilkes on drums/percussion, and Jennifer Paige (presumably THE Jennifer Paige of 'Crush' fame) on background vocals.
The sound is what I'd expect from John Waite. It ties in with his past solo endeavours and Bad English, and chucks a few more ideas in besides. This is an album built on a base of solid hearty rock with a layer of accessible pop, country and folk smeared over the top. The lyrics are typical John Waite - i.e. complex, intelligent, and orientated towards historical famous figures, storytelling and well known aspects of the USA.
The voice. It's still as crisp and beautiful as ever. John Waite really is one of those performers who has been on the top of his game forever and really couldn't be mistaken for anyone else. The lyrics throughout are very cool and encourage the listener to hang on every word. There's plenty of variety on "Rough and Tumble", from big rockers to slower trips down the road of love.
Not So Good:
Not a lot. The songs are often too clever for their own good, trading listenability and catchiness for intense intelligence. Sometimes, John Waite's music really could do with being dumbed down a bit...as stoopid as that sounds.
The title track is a simplistic, stripped back affair with plenty of charm. 'Shadows Of Love' follows a similar path, using the bare minimum music and volume to convey the message. 'Evil' is a smooth lounge-orientated track with a beautifully cool vibe. 'If You Ever Get Lonely' is the album's big ballad, and whilst it isn't up to the man's finest hours, it ain't 'alf bad. 'Skyward' is a pleasant chilled modern rocker with a feelgood edge. 'Sweet Rhode Island Red' is kind of catchy, but I have to say the lyrical content is annoying.
'Love's Goin' Out Of Style' has a near-funk underbelly and works well, if with an understated style. 'Better Off Gone' is similar - pleasant and understated. It's a definite grower though. 'Further The Sky' plods with real panache. 'Peace Of Mind' is a memorable effort. John's singing voice is a lot more musical than his speaking voice though! The bonus tracks are both up to the standards of the rest of the album.
"Rough & Tumble" is a fine release. It may be too subdued for some, but the quality of songwriting and John's superb voice conspire to lift it to a lofty plateau.
Check out... All of it.