Buckets Rebel Heart
Musicians like Dave “Bucket” Colwell are the lifeblood of the small venue Rock scene; the sort of guy you might hear on an album or at a gig and say to yourself “that guitarist can certainly play!” without knowing his name. This is poor reward for a man who has toured internationally (only last winter he was as far afield as New Zealand with a band he co-led with Foreigner bassist Rick Wills), most notably with Bad Company and the current incarnation of Humble Pie.
He belatedly released his debut CD ‘Guitars, Beers & Tears’ in 2013 as Bucket & Co., with a raft of guest vocalists in tow; for this follow-up with co-leader and drummer Paul Edwards he retained just one of them, the impressive Jim Stapley, for the bulk of the vocal duties.
In concert “Bucket” often bases his setlists on hits recorded by the likes of Free, Bad Company, Foreigner and the Small Faces; many of the originals on this album are written in a similar vein and (while obviously no Rodgers or Marriott; who could be?) Stapley’s voice fits in hand in glove.
After the excellent opener ‘Animal Beat’ and the radio-friendly hook of the title track, ‘Rebel Heart’ sees Stapley mining a higher register (more akin to the sound of Foreigner perhaps) and we do get treated to a Marriott after all! On this track and the next pair, ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Whiskeyland’ (the latter of which features lead guitar by Ross McEwen), the strong backing vocals are provided by Steve’s daughter Mollie, whose contributions are instantly recognisable, even at this early stage in her career. ‘Rebel Heart’ and ‘The Bridge’ also feature some nice piano work by Richard Young.
After the semi-acoustic, Spanish tinged ‘Mexican Sun/El Diablo’, Stapley sits out for ‘Radio State Of Mind’, allowing Rick “Georgia Satellites” Richards to handle the vocals and (the now sadly departed) Mikael Fassberg to take the guitar lead; this song has a little of the Country/Southern Rock about it. Stapley then returns to show how to reach the higher register without straining on the power ballad-like ‘When Angels Fall’.
The quieter mood is maintained during the semi-acoustic ‘Bulletproof’; this song, like the album opener, has backing vocals by Lyla D’Souza, who gets to sing lead on the next track, ‘Customised Car’. Her voice is strong and soulful, but, together with the horn backing on this track, it rather interrupted the mood or feel of the album as a whole for me.
Stapley returns for the closing pair of ‘Faraway Blues’, which again has a lead solo by McEwen, and ‘If You Need Me’; these are not the album’s strongest songs and it was an interesting choice to close proceedings at near ballad tempo. However, these are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things; this is a fine album and, especially if you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned, you can buy with confidence and help to raise “Bucket” and Jim Stapley’s profiles in the process.