The Outlaw Orchestra - Back Under The Covers
It was Buckle & Boots that originally introduced us to The Outlaw Orchestra, we were all set to review their set this year when technical difficulties struck meaning that it was curtailed so much that there was little left to review - however their general bon homie suggested that they were well worthy of further investigation and here is their latest release - "Back Under The Covers" a somewhat eclectic mix of covers given The Outlaw Orchesta's unique workover.
Things start with a searing guitar solo intro, and thirty seconds in you would probably be none the wiser as to what this track will become - eventually it gives way to thunderous repeated drum rolls and banjo picking which gradually resemble The Beatles "Come Together". Of all of their catalogue this one perhaps lends itself to a heavier rocky reinterpretation and that is surely better than trying to produce a facsimile version. There is clearly an appreciation of the original and the key elements are retained, it has just been shot through the prism of loud guitars fighting it out with a subdued but insistent banjo. It is completely crackers yet somehow works and David Roux's vocals have a quality that matches Lennon's original style of delivery
Staying in the same era but in a completely different style comes The Small Faces "Itchycoo Park", with the overall sound becoming more acoustic and shining a light a light as to how harmonious the Outlaw Orchestra can be when they want, if anything this version actually lets the lyrics come a little more to the fore. Closing with some additional organ backing, it is another delight.
If there was one song that barely needed turning up it was Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" yet somehow The Outlaw Orchestra have managed to extract some further decibels. If ever there was a criticism of the original it would be of the vocals which are way back in the mix, where as here they are loud and proud up front. If you like your blues rock then go no further.
Of the five tracks on the EP, The Outlaw Orchestra's take on The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek" is probably the closest in sound to the original, certianly retaining that funky feel. As such it is maybe the least interesting of the five tracks although we are full of admiration in their ability to recreate their version of the sound and the sound of the barking dog at the end does give it an additional rootsy feel.
Things come to an end with "Iron Fist" a tune by Ian Kilminster otherwise known as the late lamented Lemmy, as with much of his oevre the original comes at you at full volume with the velocity of an oncoming hurricane. Rather than trying to out Motorhead Motorhead, the Outlaw Orchestra have approached this tune from a different direction , no less frenetic but with banjos, acoustic guitars and an organ providing a much smoother refined sound. Vocals wise it would be hard not improve on Lemmy's rasp and so the result does shine a light on his ability to construct a song although the threatening lyrics like "You know me prepare to die" lose a little of their menace.
There is a guitar solo midway through but it is not ear screechingly loud - although a later one does indeed have some bite. Gradually closing to a sound of an organ, The Outlaw Orchestra have unearthed a rough diamond and with a bit of love and care turned it into something a little more acceptable to the masses.
It has undoubtely been a fun project to create, the sheer enjoyment shines through in every song, and the attention to detail marks this out as being much more than a vanity project. It all makes for a rollicking good listen.