Pssst, I need to tell you about this new album that most of the world will sadly never hear, but you need to give it one as this retro rock eases back the tempo for the most part and reminds us of days gone by when the sound of the jukebox was prevalent. Rich Hope combines some classic blues and rock with a healthy heaping of heart and soul to create an enjoyable sound that perfectly compliments his vocals. He creates some great moments here and does a wonderful job of crafting an album that has a natural ebb and flow.

Things get started with the upbeat ‘It Come Alive’ which rises like a classic garage Nugget from the past and has really served to set the tone for the album with every listen. The wailing chorus contains a shot of adrenaline and the musical race to the finish smokes. While it might be a risky to place a cover so close to the beginning of an album, Hope takes the Flamin’ Groovies’ ‘Golden Clouds’ and makes it sound like his own. The guitar work is outstanding, and it leads into a groove infused number designed to make the body move. I want to also highlight how well this album is mixed as the instruments are largely given space to be heard and showcase the players. ‘Creepstone’ contains a catchy blues shuffle that again calls back to the Nugget days with some subtle instrumentation providing extra sizzle to the verses. It is the beat that serves as the killer hook here.

‘La Iguana’ expands the sound of the record even further with its slow blues beat highlighting some really solid vocals. I love the psychedelic elements that are brought into this one as you can close your eyes and simply get lost in the song for all 5 minutes each time. The addition of the horns only enhances what a great song this is. Closing out the first half of the record by turning back up the tempo a bit with ‘Blow Away’ makes both songs even stronger. This one should be on every 1970’s jukebox back in the day with outstanding horns and a catchy and big chorus designed to leave a hook in the listener as you flip the record over to take in the magical back half of the album.

‘5 Cents a Dance’ provides some up tempo fun to get our blood going again with the organ pumping some garage rocking melodies into our heads. This was not one of the more immediate songs for me, but it works its way into my soul a little bit more with every listen. ‘Some Kind of Love’ opens with a cool bass riff and again makes great use of the horns, including a horn solo that jumps out of the speaker. Hope’s vocals fit this song like a glove, and the hook is so insidious that you don’t even realize it is there until well after the album is finished.

Up next, ‘Paranoia Blues’ once again finds us exploring a different texture with the street blues approach constantly creating an image in my mind where Hope is set up on the street with a few players spilling out the wisdom of a 1,000 lifetimes through a vintage storytelling style that could be lifted from the beginning of humans creating music. ‘Runnin’ Shoes’ is then what happens when the scene suddenly shifts due to the sudden movement of someone running down the street with the guitar leading into a high energy number including handclaps, compulsory hip shaking, and some great scream and shout vocals. It highlights a unique element of the album as it gives way to the slower, deserves to be a future classic, ‘Heartbreaker.’ The trio of songs that end this album are incredibly strong and are my overall favourites from the record. ‘Heartbreaker’ could have been on the radio back in the day, and programmers would not have batted an eye at the nearly 5 minutes running time. While this one should get a run on satellite radio, the impact to the mainstream cannot be captured in the same way. There is some great pedal steel guitar work here, and the instrumental close to the song provides a great conclusion to the song and the album.

Rich Hope may have spent 10 years between releases, but he has made the wait worth it for his fans and made me a fan in the process. If you are looking for some real, organic music made by people who feel the music in every inch of their soul (and why wouldn’t you?), this album provides a great listening experience each time. I found that it really clicked with me when I was able to just spend a little bit of extra time with it.

‘I’m All Yours’ is available now.




Author: Gerald Stansbury