On the press pack that came with “Bastards Of Beale” there is one of the all time great typos. “In 1992, [Tora Tora’s] second album, “Wild America”, featuring singles “Amnesia” and “Faith Healer”, was released,” it suggests, before adding: “A third album, “Revolution Day”, was recorded in 1994, but it was never released due to label restructuring and the shitt in the musical climate. The band went on hiatus indefinitely.”

Ok, yes I know it is meant to say “shift” but then to some of us, the other word applies too.

I know of what I speak to be fair. I had those two records, and very good they are too and to the people that never quite forgave Grunge for killing what we loved, the disappearance of that third record was yet more evidence that we didn’t smell of Teen Spirit at all, merely hair spray.

Enter Frontiers Records. The Italian label has made something of a speciality of getting old bands back together and enticing them to record new material. They did it with the wonderful Jetboy album that came out recently and this is mostly the same deal.

What is interesting about hearing bands that haven’t stuck original stuff out in decades back together is the change in how you personally view it. When I was a kid my dad used to say to me: “when you’re 15 you think your parents know nothing. When you’re 20 you can’t believe how much they learned in the last five years.”

That’s kinda how I feel about “Bastards Of Beale”. For one thing, it was just rock then. It’s “classic rock” now, but such is the passing of time. Rather, listening to this with the benefit of wisdom and maturity that comes in the mid-40’s (urmmmmmm…..or something) you can see where they got this from.

So opener “Sons Of Zebedee” sounds righteously filthy, and resolutely full of beans, but goodness me, it sounds like Free too. That’s the point, and its not like anyone here hasn’t heard “Wishing Well” and doesn’t think it is immense.

“Giants Fall” is typical of both their work of the past and this record more specifically, because it grooves, it is basically blues rock and it has a hook and a chorus that many of their peers never did. Looking back on those early records, actually, they were ahead of their time, because TT were racing somewhere different from the glam rockers. Now everyone is adding a bit of blues to the mix.

The fact that all four original members are here doesn’t half help too. There is just a chemistry in the swagger of “Everbrite” Anthony Corder and Keith Douglas know instinctively when to trade licks and vocals, but nowhere better than here. The Led Zep stylings here work perfectly.

“Silence The Sirens” is perhaps even better, injecting some real urgency. There’s some grit in the engine room of drummer John Patterson and a chug in the bass of Patrick Francis, while “Son Of A Prodigal Son” has a bit of a country flavour, something of the “Copperhead Road” perhaps and “Lights Up The River” absolutely shines throughout.

“All Good Things” is essentially just a boogie, but it does entertain the thought that “once in a while, you got to wait patiently for all good things to come…..” and its hard not to think they might be talking about this collection.

“Rose Of Jericho” offers a little bit of a homage to rock n roll itself. Almost as if they know they are standing on the shoulders of giants here. There is mention of the “King Of Tupelo” as much as the “Queen Of Nutbush” before the overriding line in the bridge that “rock n roll ain’t dead yet…”

As if to prove that, the title track rocks like, well, a bastard frankly. The band takes its name from a Van Halen song and there is a bit of the carefree of Eddie’s lads here. “Jagger And Richards, Plant And Page, they were the ones that carried the flame, “ sings Corder, and he’s just the fan he always was, that much is clear.

That’s why this works. Because on “Bastards Of Beale”, Tora Tora are merely playing the music they love. And dare we say would be listening to, if they weren’t playing it themselves – and not a ballad is to be seen, either.

Don’t worry about the break. Don’t question what might have been. Just be grateful Tora Tora are back, the glorious bastards.

Rating 9/10

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