Former Tiny Monroe and The Snakes guitar slinger Richard Davies takes centre stage for the first time as principal songwriter and singer with the Dissidents, a band who include Mega City Four/The Snakes drummer Chris Cannon and Last Great Dreamers bassist Tim Emery.
As well as playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90’s, and recording 3 albums with alt country collective The Snakes, Richard Davies has also worked with the likes of Glen Matlock and Peter Perritt as a hired gun, which sure ain’t a bad place to be.
An album that has been a long time coming, ‘Human Traffic’ was recorded last year and deals in retrospective songs of life, love and human nature.
If you like your rock ‘n’ roll from the shady side of town, where the nights are so long and starry-eyed girls have that certain shake appeal, then ‘Human Traffic’ will be right up your ally.
The title track gets things off to a power pop start. This is high energy rock ‘n’ roll, with guitars slung low and lyrics from the heart. A stripped-back, ramshackle sound can’t hide Davies’ knack for a catchy melody and ‘Human Traffic’ is first of several tunes to channel Ian Hunter in his prime.
The material is mostly originals from the heart and soul of the main man, with a few choice covers thrown in for good measure. ‘Lay Me Low’ is a traditional Shaker hymn re-worked with ‘Dissident’ style to sound like an outtake from Michael Monroe’s first solo offering. ‘Heartbeat Smile’ is a cover of an Alejandro Escovedo tune, and in the hands of The Dissidents, it’s a rollicking, Stonesy ride with solid beats, Keef style riffs and Mick-like hollerin’. Richard Davies also recalls his past with a new take on the Tiny Monroe song ‘Under The Skin’.
Of the originals on offer, it is hard to pick a favourite, as they are all pretty strong to be fair. Latest single ‘21st Century Man’ is power pop perfection to the max. With hooks you’ll swear you’ve heard before, the chorus is as catchy as the verses are cool. Think Elvis Costello meets The Replacements here, tinny guitars and cowbell give that added retro 80’s alternative feel. It’s a theme that reappears throughout the album. A tinkling of the ivories and spaghetti western guitar twang give ‘Way Of The Wild’ a certain anthemic feel, like The Alarm meets The Psychedelic Furs. A memorable, driving chorus only adds to the appeal for me. And is that Rick Richards jamming with Tom Petty on the ‘(Long Road) To Your Heart’? No, it’s only Richard Davies & The Dissidents jamming it out and putting their heart and soul into their rock ‘n’ roll music. What a tune! It has classic stamped all over it, as guitars riff loosely over a ramshackle beat that builds to a killer chorus.
In cool hat, dark shades and brandishing a guitar, Richard Davies emerges from the shadows with an accomplished debut album, choc-a-bloc with rootsy rock ‘n’ roll to soothe the soul.
Why it’s taken him so long to get an album out is anyone’s guess. But hopefully, this is the start of something long and productive, as Richard Davies & The Dissidents have released an album that harks back to simpler times, but still has the tunes and the staying power to match any of the other great rock records released so far this year.
Author: Ben Hughes