“Where do you scratch? That’s the kind of thing a guy should do alone”. Well, quite. And if nothing else that line – on “Scratch” the opening track here – rather sums up the unconventional approach of Mark Brown.

Growing up with Johnny Cash, he saw Tom Waits almost 50 years ago and that pivotal moment evidently colours his music to this day.

After the quasi-disco of the opener, then there’s some quasi-bluegrass on “Davenport” and the truth is, nothing on “Happy Hour” is quite anything. The title track takes you through his childhood, in a raucous, near-punk fashion,  and the excellent band that joins him album on number three is to the fore with the double bass on “Deer Cut And Wrapped”.

His love of Cash is best shown on the classic country strum of “God Bless Me Jesus”, and if “PCP” is a rather odd little thing, then “The Unanswered Prayer” ends things a little more conventionally, albeit with the lyrical flourish of his heroes.

Rating 8/10

Around a year ago Thunder Horse burst out of Texas with a mighty third album “After The Fall”, now they are back with a sweat-soaked (I’ve no idea whether it was, but I’ll bet you) performance in their home state.

The title track of that ’23 record, the slow, menacing “The New Normal” – on which Stephen Bishop spits “do not comply” as if he really means it – and “Monolith” are all a signpost as to how good a record that was, but the older material such as the superb “Song For The Ferryman” – where T.C. Connally’s lead guitar absolutely excels – and “Chosen One” prove that the other pair of albums are more than worth investigating too.

The set ends with a cover, and if you were expecting a Sabbath cut, then you’ll be disappointed, instead, Lemmy is honoured, just don’t forget the Joker.

Mr. Kilminster knew a thing or two about live albums, too. He’d approve of this one – and so should you.

Rating 8.5/10

And we stay in Texas for Duel. Since 2016, the four-piece have been doing this – and by “this” I mean slightly menacing proto-metal with a nasty psych edge, like the trip was really bad.

“Breakfast (with) Death” (if it’s ok with you I’ll stick to granola) has nine songs on with that vibe, opener “Ancient Moonlight” is as heavy as it is nasty, “Satan’s Intervention”  sees Tom Frank offering that “hell is a place here on earth” and this is a nightmarish vision.

Fallacy” like so many of these, wishes it was 1972 and there is a rawness, a pleasing lack of polish to this metal that really works, lead man Jeff Henson is really enjoying is early Maiden work on “Beserker” and “Greet The Dead” moves into doomy- Sabbath type waters.

The barely concealed nihilism is properly unleashed on the last one “Burn The Earth” – and doubtless they salted it all for good measure too.

Duel aren’t for changing, and I suspect if you did fight them, you’d end up second best.

Rating 8/10

On which Segs Jennings, Leigh Heggarty, and David Ruffy get their acoustics out (sort of) and have a go at some more from the back catalogue.

The old stuff, like “Dope For Guns” and “Society” – which works particularly well with its rapid-fire delivery – and the rawness of “Criminal Minds” will doubtless get most of the attention, given the classic that nature of the material, but as ever these 13 songs come right up to date, with 2022’s wonderful “Counterculture” record represented with a superb reworking of “Pretty Lunatics”.

And that’s the point. These are not lazy, half-arsed versions. These are well-thought-through new ideas, like “Jah War”  – another old one.

The skill of this, though, is on the warm, mid-paced “Too Much”, as exemplifies the whole project by taking on a whole new life.

They must be running out of songs to do this with, but good things come in threes. And if they might well have been B-sides before the internet ruined music, then some of the finest stuff in the mid-90s were B-sides, just saying.

Rating 8.5/10

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