Review: Ricky Warwick – 'Stairway Troubadour'

So one of the busiest artists on this planet, Ricky Warwick, has just popped out another one. A glorious and fun filled collection of covers based on his pledge updates for his last two (fantastic) releases.

You can always tell how busy a band/artist is by how many albums they release, and how many times you have seen them live, so grab this one for size people: Three solo albums, one Black Star Riders album. I have seen Ricky Warwick in Glasgow once solo and acoustic, three times with Black Star Riders, and once with Damon on their acoustic jaunt, and another one later this month…..all in just over a year!
 
That is some going when you break it down, and each time I see/hear the man I am always filled with hope and drive, as by all rights we should not have these gifts, as Ricky threw in the towel, decided music was not for him, and decided his life was meant to comprise of coaching fat, sweaty women in a gym. Women who were probably only there for the talent. I have also done that job, and I can see why he jumped at the offer to get back in the ‘biz’.
 
Like most people in this life the man got thrown a truck-full of shit and hard times, and to be honest, he turned and ran. I suppose the music business isn’t the friendliest at times, and when you are down you tend to lose friends at a rate of knots. The good thing about all of this is he has come back stronger and a hell of a lot wiser, which leads us right onto this album.
Ricky does what Ricky wants now. He makes the decisions, and does what he likes. This album is full of Ricky’s past, and it is full of joy. DO NOT for one minute look at this and think it is the old washed up band who cannot cut it anymore, so throw out a covers album, This one is for the fans. We asked him to do it as we enjoyed the updates from his home in the States. It was a nice touch to all those people who splashed out on his pledge albums.
 
So now I have finished dissecting Ricky Warwick’s life (Sorry, Sir) let’s get down to business…
“You Spin Me Round”, yes, originally by Dead Or Alive, and as you say what the… hold on… I saw Ricky do this live on his solo tour, and it was brilliant, I do have to admit there were too many people that knew the lyrics (including me), so thanks for dredging up those repressed memories of big hair and ridiculous clothes, but this works really well, and if I have to describe it, imagine Johnny Cash singing it.
 
“Oops, I Did It Again” (originally Britney Spears), wait come back, where are you going people…it works, honest. It is mostly acoustic, and I honestly believe Ricky more, when I hear   I’m not that innocent”.
“Summertime Blues” (Originally Eddie Cochrane). This one is straight out of his parents record collection. We got to see this type of influence on his previous pledge releases. It’s a good-time song, that we all know. The foot will be tapping, and you will be singing along.
 
“1,000 Dollar Car” (originally The Bottle Rockets) fits perfectly with the man’s voice. It may be a bit of a stupid song lyrically, but I reckon there is a message in there, and I don’t mean eBay purchases. This songs sees Ricky’s voice come to the forefront. He is singing better than he ever has, and with an acoustic in his hand I could sit and watch/listen to him all night.
 
“Cocaine Blues”(originally Johnny Cash), and another Mum and Dad favourite? But this is what is so great about what Mr Warwick is doing now. He always was a melting pot of influences, which I feel he is only now letting out. We get the folk, punk, blues, and rock, sometimes all in the same song at times, but it’s from his heart and soul, and full of honesty.
 
“I don’t Want To Grow Up” (famously by The Ramones), and guess who is right at home here? The punk has never left him, and you can hear the smile in his voice as he sings it, It is great on the acoustic.
 
“I Fought The Law” (famously by The Clash/Green Day). The original could have been another from the record collection, but most people will never have heard the Bobby Fuller Four version, but who does not know the Clash version? We have all sung this, full tilt, while drunk and thought, “Yeah, I am a rebel!” It converts well to the acoustic, and Ricky does it proud.
“Burning Love” (Originally Elvis Presley). You can hear the sneer and the hip clicking as he tries the move (you are not that young any more, sir). For me this is the weakest song on the album, but that will be due to never really getting the whole Elvis thing.
“Jesus Loves You” (Originally The Almighty). My outright favourite. The Almighty, for me, were a seriously underrated band. I lived and breathed them in the 90’s. They were my hometown band, a band I watched move through the smaller venues until they were under the stars of the hallowed Barrowland. This song was made for the acoustic, and I would have paid the price of the CD for this alone. It is also a very brave song, which most people will not realise. They may just think it is just a two fingers stuck up at religion, but for a boy born and bred in Belfast you cannot underestimate the message here. Someone who saw what religion can do first hand through the Troubles. I was brought up near Glasgow, and like Ricky, I know all too well what sectarianism does. It is bred and fed from one generation to the next, but I also broke the cycle, and this song portrays the message so well.
 
“Wrathchild” (originally Iron Maiden) is good to hear on an acoustic. You will never hear Maiden do it this way, and the adaptation is stunning. We get an almost Spanish guitar feel, and I just love how every song on this album gets its own spin.
 
This is a great release, and one that the fans will all be very thankful for. I suspect, for the man, it portrays a journey and has so many memories that he had a ball making it. Now, if he is listening to us fans, could he manage to rattle together a full acoustic album of The Almighty songs? Pretty please?… sugar on top, and £10 in the back pocket.
I am so glad that he is back in the fold, and doing what he loves. Whatever he does we will enjoy. Keep on rockin’!
Review: Ritchie Birnie
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