I don’t usually review records.
Though I was tempted to ghost one last year, about my band’s new CD, until a couple of reputable people came to the party and spared me the ignominy.
But every so often a new release comes along that leaves you with no option.
A few years ago I was at the Big Day Out, in a professional capacity, I hasten to say, acting for the organizers, when I saw a band that stopped me in my tracks.
I didn’t really know who Brandon Flowers was. I had heard of his band The Killers, but their work was something I hadn’t paid much attention to. (“Somebody told me, you had a girlfriend, who looked like a boyfriend…”) Say no more.
But when the first few bars of their 2006 anthem ‘When You Were Young” exploded from the stage, I was transfixed. So was the audience.
The irony of the title wasn’t lost on me, being a good 30 years older (at least) than the assembled multitude in the mosh-pit where I had inadvertently found myself. I was old enough to be grandfather to most of them. But the performance somehow crossed all the boundaries.
Obviously I hadn’t come to see The Killers, but they were amazing. Even for an old fart who had grown up on a diet of Beatles and Stones and (dare I say it) ABBA.
A modern band with melody, brilliant musician-ship, audible and understandable lyrics? Surely not! It was spiritual. And it kept getting better. I went home a different person.
Since then, I’ve followed their new releases, both excellent, and have became a confirmed Killers fan. Granted, the name was hard to come to terms with, but it was worth it.
And then there was Battleborn. Released recently, it’s right up there with anything I’ve ever heard. A cross-generational album you just can’t take out of the CD player.
Think Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell. Jackson Brown’s Pretender, Bob Seeger’s best stuff. Think soaring vocals with real melody. Think everything you used to turn on the radio for.
Just when you thought that modern music had entirely lost the plot, it’s time to think again.
The Killers’ unlikely front man Brandon Flowers, a Las Vegas Mormon (!) just nails vocals like none I can think of in the past 30 years, despite having been born in 1981. And he can write. Really write. Romance, infidelity, regret, all the good stuff, with real kick and no country and western type cliches.
If you can get past the kitsch title of Miss Atomic Bomb, you will treat yourself to a classic. Runaways is a gem in the genre of Springstein’s best. Here with Me is a ballad that will stick with you for a long time. And the rest of the album is just as good. Like Abbey Road, it just keeps growing on you.
Those of you old enough to have watched Countdown on TV will remember Molly Meldrum’s invocation “Do yourself a favour”. I can only echo that sentiment about Battleborn. While he was probably getting paid to say that, I can assure you I’m not.
If you aren’t absolutely satisfied with your purchase (or download, for those of you sufficiently computer savvy) I will send you a copy of my band’s latest CD.
And that’s a threat, not a promise.
Whoever said, “They just don’t write them like that anymore” was wrong.