Review: Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – ‘We’re The Bastards’

When November 13th brought forth a new AC/DC album, the spotlight of the music world again shone down on the Hard Rock & Roll fraternity. How good was it seeing TV adverts for AccaDacca between all the usual “last day of the DFS sale” ads? For Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, the news of a new ‘DC album must have been a double-edged sword. Yes, it’s great to have Angus and Co back, but on the same day that the sophomore PCATBS album announced its presence with a blow to the solar plexus? Damn, that’s bad luck. Motörhead Phil needn’t have worried though, for the Motörhead fanbase are a loyal bunch and were always going to represent in their thousands when a new album was on offer from the man who played alongside Lemmy for decades. It also helps that ‘We’re The Bastards’ is bloody brilliant.

You should know the back-story by now; Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons are Phil Campbell along with his three sons Todd (guitar), Dane (drums), and Tyla (bass), with non-Campbell Neil Starr on vocals. One of the best live acts on the circuit: you leave a PCATBS gig hoarse, with ringing ears, and wake up the next morning knowing that you have been at a full-on gig. The debut album ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ is a wild ride, Campbell’s solo album ‘Old Lions Still Roar’ – a stunning example of how to deliver an album full of quality as well as variety. ‘We’re The Bastards’ is a splendid mix of both.

The title track opens up the album with a call-to-arms approach extolling the medicinal virtues of music. And if ever there was a perfect time to be told that “music is medicine, music is therapy” then it’s now. The line of “Spending another day in the age of absurdity” will raise a knowing wry smile, while the immediate follow-up of “…can’t wait to feel the road moving right under me…” will strike a chord with everyone pining for a gig that doesn’t involve a PC or smartphone. A fantastic chorus that lives on for some time afterward, and a killer Pete Townsend-type melodic guitar effect before the main solo comes in, all combine to make for a raucous opener. With a big-ass bass lick, Tyla Campbell brings the band in on ‘Son Of A Gun’ for a few minutes that will cause pints to arc skywards, and dandruff to fly, when gigs resume for what should be a packed schedule in 2021/2022/2023 (delete where appropriate). The flip-side to this full-pelt approach from PCATBS are moments like the gritty ‘Born To Roam’, which comes across like a mash-up of Pantera and Southern Rock (‘Rebel Meets Rebel’ done 2020 style? Hellyeah); the toe-tapping, harmonica-strains of ‘Desert Song’ which has a great combination of groove and swing; and the slow-burning, epic ‘Waves’ which closes the album with a powerful, mature vocal performance from Starr, and a killer guitar solo.

But, this is Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, so the pedal is always going to be floored at multiple points, and ‘We’re The Bastards’ doesn’t scrimp on the faster, heavier material. ‘Animals’ is propelled forward by the nailed-on drum work from Dane Campbell which combines well with the razor riffage from Phil and Todd Campbell; ‘Destroyed’ is two minutes of punk-fuelled mayhem which cries out for audience participation; ‘Hate Machine’ sounds like a song called ‘Hate Machine’ should, and then there is the slower, heavier material. With multiple changes in pace ‘Bite My Tongue’ has a fantastic groove and plenty of guitar fireworks; ‘Riding Straight To Hell’ has a pulsating, staccato feel to it that explodes to life with a sizzling trademark Phil Campbell solo, easy to imagine him peeling this solo off night after night with that cooler-than-fuck stage persona that Campbell senior has.

AC/DC are back, yeah, but it’s also great to have The Bastard Sons back.

Pick up ‘We’re The Bastards’ here, and give the National Album Charts an altogether nicer look come Friday 20th November when chart positions are released.

Review – Dave

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