Review­: Whitford St Holmes – 'Reunion'

Aerosmith fans can usually be broken down into two groups, “Team Tyler” or “Team Perry”, but for some fans, there is a smaller, more secretive, group,“Team Less Interesting Three”. This is made up of Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, and Brad Whitford. Band members often overshadowed by Tyler and Perry, but whose input to the band is crucial. If you were a fan of the “LI3” back in the early eighties, then your holy grail was the self titled debut album from Whitford St Holmes, a delicious slice of guitar-driven American rock, that was the result of a collaboration between Brad Whitford and Ted Nugent singer/guitarist Derek St Holmes. The partnership didn’t last long. Whitford went back to Aerosmith, and St Holmes would go on to play with Michael Schenker in MSG, but as the two remained close friends, there was always hope that one day a follow up would surface. No-­one thought that it would take 35 years, mind you! Fast forward to present day, and both players are residing in Nashville. Down time became writing and recording time, and ‘Reunion’ was born. Music city working its magic again. ‘Reunion’ is old school rock n’ roll. It’s chock full of wailing guitar solos, it’s ballsy, and most importantly, it’s got heart and soul in abundance. St Holmes still has that golden voice that so many peers respect, and on ‘Hell Is On Fire’ and ‘Shake It’, he hits the high notes with ease. Lest we forget, St Holmes sings on the ultimate Ted Nugent song, ’Stranglehold’, and it’s fantastic to hear him letting rip once more. Whitford has always been under estimated as a guitarist, but he is as important to the Aerosmith sound as Malcolm Young was to AC/DC. Unleashed from the restraints of Aerosmith’s lack of activity and their insistance of playing more commercial music, Whitford sounds relieved to be playing riffs and solos again, as well as flexing his songwriting muscles once more. The album sounds like it was recorded live, and the band that Whitford St Holmes have assembled play a massive part in this. Troy Luccketta took some time out from his day job with Tesla to lay down some incredible drum work (check out the swing on ‘Gotta Keep On Movin’’), and his partnership with bassist Chopper Anderson is slamming. Aerosmith touring keyboard player, Buck Johnson, also lends a hand, and his sound compliments the guitar sound in a way that was so prevalent in the golden era of rock.
Whitford St Holmes have compiled nine tracks on ‘Reunion’, but the ‘quality rather than quantity’ mantra makes sense, compared to the current trend of stretching albums out to 14 or 15 tracks. ‘Shapes’ is a killer homage to The Yardbirds and sounds massive, ‘Tender Is The Night’ has an eighties drive time radio vibe going on, ‘Rock All Day’ and ‘Hot For You’ have a groove to die for, ’Catch My Fall’ has all the makings of a hit single, and ‘Gotta Keep On Movin’’ swings like a basset hound’s ears. The rockers are where the band really take the brakes off, and will get the heads bobbing and asses shaking. When Luccketta counts the band in on ‘Shake It’, I was half expecting The Sex Pistols to come in with ‘Holiday In The Sun’… great drum sound. ‘Flood Of Lies’ ends the album with a sound that echoes classic Aerosmith on the likes of ‘Seasons Of Wither’ and ’Kings And Queens’. As much as the song is perfect for Aerosmith, St Holmes delivers a powerful vocal performance, and this must sound incredible on the live stage. Whitford St Holmes is the sound of two masters of their craft having a blast and inviting some friends along for the ride. Thankfully someone hit the record button, and the end result is an album that any fan of classic guitar rock will appreciate, all the more considering that ‘Reunion’ comes with a free remastered version of the debut album. ‘Reunion’ is available now through Mailboat Records. Review: Dave Stott

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