Its funny how things work out.
I’ve just reviewed a Black Stone Cherry gig that I was at last night, back in 2015, I was talking to Doomsday Outlaw’s Indy about the band, and he was saying they were the one he most admired at the time.
A lot of water has gone under a lot of bridges since then – Outlaw were going out with their first record. “A self-released slice of brilliance from the swamps of the East Midlands” I’d called it. This is literally and metaphorically a different beast to that one, but two things haven’t changed.
Chief amongst them is the integrity of the group. You sense this is a band for whom the music and the quality of the work matters above all, but there’s another more definable quality: their skill.
“Damaged Goods” is 12 hard rock songs. They aren’t a “southern” rock band anymore, nor are they a thick riffed Clutch clone. No, this is a hard rock record. Shiny hooks, choruses. But my god! It’s sensational.
“In Too Deep” the opener, is some (not all) of what you need to know. Alter Bridge sized huge, it’s unashamed and its massive. It is, according to the man himself (like all the rest) singer Phil Poole laying himself bare and you can sense the rawness of the words.
Around about a year ago I saw them play live, and they’d opened with this one then. You can see why.
The cowbell drenched “On My Way” is the sort of thing Thunder do, it’s instantly classic, and I am merely proving I never change, I suppose but on my review for that show I’d written about “If This Is The End” that it had a “bit of a Bon Jovi thing going on”. Listening to the album version over the last week or so I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that I was listening to a revamped “This Ain’t A Love Song”. So yeah, there’s that.
Dave Draper who seems to work on every brilliant British album going right now, has taken this to the next level, along with Chris D’Adda. What that means in practice is that stuff like “Turn Me Loose” is rollicking along like The Black Crowes, but its chorus is: “the way I am will still the same, cos I don’t care enough to change”. That you’ll be singing it at 3pm on a Wednesday imminently is a promise.
There’s even a nod or two along the way to “old school” Doomsday, if you will, and the one with the Jovi title “Runaway” has more energy than anything JBJ has done in decades. Right in the middle is a thunderous little groovy bastard, “My Woman Comes On Strong” would, if it were Rival Sons, be a Gold Disc in waiting too.
“There Is Nowhere Left To Hide” is a heartbeat away from Americana (I imagine there to be a lot of this stuff in their collections) but it and the rest, are merely to allow “One More Sip” to occupy it’s space in the spotlight. It stood out at the gig, it stands out now. Rarely has a downright miserable song been so joyous. Look, I am teetotal, yesterday I was sat at my desk at work going “might as well take one more sip, and oh when I finish, I’ll start over again, I said I might just drink myself to death.” The catchiest song by a UK band since Bad Touch stuck out“99%”? Yep.
The use of keyboards is brilliant throughout, but never better than on “It Never Gets Old” where Jon Lord is somewhere looking on with pride, and they are adept at changing the pace too, as only the best bands can do. “Walking The Line” is all slide guitar and Tennessee Whiskey and as if to show their full range, there’s even just a flavour of Pink Floyd about “The Little Things.”
Way back when, on that review of their debut record, I’d called Doomsday Outlaw “the best unsigned band in Britain”. They have a deal these days, but the record industry has changed so much that doesn’t matter as much. So lets just say this instead in 2023. “Damaged Goods” is a stunning album. Doomsday Outlaw are one of the UK’s best bands signed or otherwise.