In these pandemic days, it’s useful to remember that not all infections are ruinous. A ‘50s disease with several names but commonly known as Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu, has had several waves over the decades with its prime victims being skinny white guys with low slung guitars. Symptoms include photophobia -hence the need for shades – a snarly voice, street-smart chords and a very infectious sense of rock’n’roll joy. Thankfully it’s not fatal, indeed, some early super spreaders are still avoiding quarantine while in their eighth decade and the germ continues to thrive in those lucky enough to have been infected.
Our patient today is Richard Davies, erstwhile guitar slinger for The Snakes, one of the more rocking of the UK Americana scene’s bands. His first solo album finds him stepping up to the mic to snarl wonderfully over a set of songs which have all the fizz and fire of punk, power pop and glam wrapped within. Our world beating track and trace app leads us to the likes of The Flamin’ Groovies, Ian Hunter, The Clash and The Jacobites as probable infectious agents which led Davies to this end and, in all truth, the best bet here is herd immunity. By which we mean you should, as soon as possible, get the album and catch this infectious beat.
Human Traffic is a terrific album. As we’ve tried to say in the somewhat strained paragraphs above, it’s power punk pop and rock with an attitude. Unashamed in its exuberance and its nods to its antecedents, it’s a rush from start to end. Davies sparkles throughout with sparks flying from his guitar while within his voice lurks the true soul of scuzzy rock’n’roll. The title song gets the album off with a bang with its muscular rumble as Davies delivers an anthem for “the last gang in town.” Lay Me Low sounds as if The Byrds had taken lessons from The Replacements while Way Of The Wild scrambles brilliantly with the helter skelter rattle jangle of Nikki Sudden.
There are echoes of the past throughout the album, as on Echo Road which hammers along with an E Street vibe along with No Man’s Land which channels Green On Red’s snarlier moments, but there’s no sense of this being merely a copycat exercise. The jumping jive of 21st Century Man and the clarion guitars of No Master No Guide certainly belong to this day and age and allow one to consider that Davies would pass muster with Chuck Prophet’s recent releases. So, go get yerself inoculated.