Review: Silent Jack – 'Play The Game'

Silent Jack are a bunch of sleazy rockers from the birthplace of heavy metal, whose mission, in their own words, is to create “rip roaring, sexy music designed to rock your clothes off!”

Well, I’ve been listening to their debut offering ‘Play The Game’, and while I managed to maintain my dignity, I have definitely shaken a few things loose!

After a couple of run throughs, listening to the album as a whole, not really considering the tracks as individuals, something stood out. I reckon some serious consideration went into the track order here. Not just a collection of their best tracks, it plays out like a set list. This album is designed to be listened to in it’s entirety, from start to finish.

So. Here we are, at the barrier, waiting to be entertained…

‘Hellride’ sets Silent Jack’s stall out early doors, with a simple one count, a big chord, and we’re off! Instant hooks, with a sleazy solo, and the classic bass-led breakdown. Let’s not forget the fair smattering of gang vocals. The party is started!

‘Whisky In Me’ is a much more groovy affair, built around a southern boogie riff, and a filthy solo! It is foot-tappingly infectious, and leads perfectly into the title track, ‘Play The Game’. Here, the boogie continues, but with a rockier, chuggier edge. The classic LA sleaze/glam influences are very much in evidence throughout, and the solo? Pitch bend central!

If you’re thinking about taking a breather, forget it! ‘Love Machine’ keeps the foot-tap count high, with a Kiss-inspired cheese-fest! The title says it all… cocksure, sexual braggardry, tongue in (someone else’s) cheek!

‘Midnight Ride’, unsurprisingly, is a hard-driving rocker about a street race. It does make the best use of the lightning/frightening couplet since Carl Douglas! So kudos there!

‘I Am The Law’ brings it all down a notch… at least for the intro… before the thick, dirty riff kicks in. That riff alone makes this one the heaviest track so far. Think ‘Sad But True’ being played by Poison… if you can!

‘Pretty Poison’ is the purest ‘old school’ glam/sleaze track on offer, to my ears, bringing what’s gone before to a crescendo, and then… Hang on! What’s happening here?

‘Turn Away’ opens with a clean guitar and then drum fill, both with a shit-ton of reverb! Listening carefully, I’m sure I could her the rustle of people rummaging through their pockets, reaching for their lighters! Zippos aloft in time for the obligatory power ballad! Big chords, catchy chorus full of yearning, and the long, soaring sustained notes of the solo… all present and correct. I’ve got to admit, my guilty pleasure warning lamp lit up like a Christmas tree!

Normal service is resumed in fine style with ‘Highway Man’. For me, this one is the most complete song on the album. Every trick is deployed perfectly. The melody is sublime, the solo superb. Even the backing vocals just ‘fit’. There’s a palpable sense that this track has been crafted, nurtured, treasured.

‘Too Many Women’, by contrast, is more knockabout. “Too many women. Not enough time.” Is the mantra here.

I said earlier, that this album has been laid out like the perfect set list. If ‘Hellride’ is the natural opener, then ‘Too Many Women’ is the natural set ender, with lots of opportunity for audience participation, and I can imagine an extended breakdown live, before the inevitable “Thank you, and good night!”… which brings us to the call for a encore, after the chants of “Si-lent Jack! Si-lent Jack!”

‘Outlaw’ fits the bill perfectly. With it’s four chord intro (did someone say Paradise City?), it then bursts into life, with machine gun verses, and a slower, instantly catchy chorus. Throw in a solo Slash would be proud of, and the crowd are in raptures!

‘Love Bite’ throws us back to the 80’s territory with the overtly ‘rapey’ theme á la ‘Love Machine’. Hey, it’s just a bit of fun, and who cares when Adam Carson’s lead guitar has never sounds as sweet as it does here?

And so, now we reach the last song of the evening, before the noise curfew, and we get kicked out into the cold. ‘Make It Right’ is the ‘busiest’ track on the album. Staccato vocals, counterpoint guitar, relentless chugging rhythm. It could have got messy, but it works out nicely. A great way to finish off. This is the only track to have a fade out. Is that to suggest the party is continuing, but we have to leave?

Overall, what have we got here? Well, to my ears a fine album, that gets better with each song. Rich Mason’s vocals are perfect for this genre. A mix of primetime Axl and Vince, with a hint of Tim Minchin (of all people!). Adam Carson’s lead work is sublime throughout, in both tone and execution. Holding it all together at the back are Dickie Spider (bass) and Scott Carson (drums), with both having their individual standout moments.

‘Play The Game’ is a great debut, from a band I’d certainly like to see live, where I’m sure these songs would really come into their own.

Review: Rob Nankivell

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