Ricky Warwick is one of those artists that we all know from one of his many guises in the Rock ‘N Roll world. For me, Ricky will always be the growling, tattooed frontman of The Almighty, a band I saw live many times and I was a big fan of their first three albums. They established themselves in the late eighties/early nineties and were very successful. They toured with such luminaries as Motorhead, Megadeth, The Ramones, etc, as well as many headline tours of their own.

After the Almighty ceased to be, Ricky could have easily sat on his laurels but he began a solo career in 2003 with his first solo effort – ‘Tattoos & Alibis’ and has since gone on to release a further seven (eight including this latest album) solo albums. In 2010 Ricky got a call from Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham who was putting together a reformed version of the band. Ricky fronted Thin Lizzy in a live setting for a few years and the band wanted to start writing new material. Out of respect for the Thin Lizzy name, they released new material under the Black Star Riders moniker, with their acclaimed debut album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’. BSR has since released another three albums and are an established band in their own right.

With his latest solo album, Ricky drafted in Keith Nelson (Ex Buckcherry) to produce.

Ricky is a true Rock-n-Roll soul…he’s got incredible stories to tell and a unique way of telling them. It’s been an honour to be asked to partner and contribute to this record.”  (Keith Nelson).

Ricky has brought in his old friend Robert Crane (Black Star Riders) on bass and Xavier Muriel (Ex – Buckcherry) on drums. With top-notch performances all around they have created a strong body of work with some fantastic songwriting. Catchy, short, and to the point, this is a well-rounded collection of songs that will be going around in your mind long after listening.

With guest spots from Joe Elliot (Def Leppard), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Luke Morley (Thunder), and Dizzy Reed (Guns N Roses) the album just oozes quality.

The album opens with the title track and it instantly sets the tone for the rest of the album. An anthem about chasing your dreams and losing friends along the journey of life, it’s one of those driving with the top down sing along tunes that everyone can relate to. With Joe Elliot contributing backing vocals it’s a fantastic introduction to the album.

‘You Don’t Love Me’ is straight to the point, a one-sided relationship that isn’t working is the theme, more fantastic performances here with a blinding guitar solo from Thunder’s Luke Morley.

‘I’d Rather Be Hit’ is next up, an up-tempo track with lyrical content around how the world is in such disarray politically. (You’re not wrong there Ricky),  Duran’s Andy Taylor contributes with a guitar solo that has his distinct style all over it.

‘Gunslinger’ is a cover of a Mink Deville track that Ricky has wanted to cover for some time. He does a great job, if you’re not tapping your foot or nodding your head along to this then you’d better check your pulse! Brilliant. ‘Never Corner A Rat’ has an early Therapy? Feel to it, chugging rhythms and pounding drums, and rasping vocals. Another stand out track.

The next song ‘Time Don’t Seem to Matter’ is a revelation. Ricky’s youngest daughter Pepper joins her father on vocals for a deeply personal and moving track. The lyrics around being away from family and the difficulty of being a musician and father are explored here. A real stand out moment and lyrical content that every father will relate to. The version used on the album is a demo. Ricky tried to re-record the song, but he felt that the demo had the best vibe.

We get back on familiar ground with ‘Fighting Heart’ a track about sticking to your guns and not compromising yourself for others. A guitar melody that sticks in your head is the foundation of the song with some powerful drumming from Muriel.

Dizzy Reed adds keyboards to ‘I Don’t Feel at Home’, a mid-paced grower that deals with the horrors of drug addiction and the shame it brings. ‘Still Alive’ kicks off with some great slide guitar from producer Nelson and the song is based around the film ‘Hell or High Water’, another great driving track. ‘Clown of Misery’ is a demo that Ricky sang into his phone and sent to producer Keith Nelson. A very simple melody strummed aimlessly on an acoustic guitar works wonderfully well.

The final track ‘You’re My Rock ‘N Roll’ has an up-tempo, almost Wildhearts feel to it and is a fantastically bombastic end to the album. The 2CD digipak version of the album also has a bonus disc – ‘Stairwell Troubadour’ with Ricky performing cover versions of an eclectic mix of songs such as: ‘Summertime Blues’ (Eddie Cochran), ‘Wrathchild’ (Iron Maiden) a version of ‘Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t’ by his old band The Almighty and erm.. ‘Oops I Did It Again (Britney Spears)! They all work wonderfully well played acoustically.

Ricky Warwick has proved yet again that he’s no one trick pony. A fantastic album from start to finish that sits well with his extensive body of work.

Buy ‘When Life Was Hard & Fast’ –  Here


Author: Kenny Kendrick