Gun – Favourite Pleasures
Caroline (Sept 2017)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Being from their hometown and knowing a few of the guys, I am pretty familiar with Gun and their career output. Admittedly, I wasn’t that keen on the band while Toby Jepson sang with them and was pretty glad the he left and even more delighted when it was announced his replacement was Dante Gizzi. While there is a constant debate about the merits of Gun without original vocalist Mark Rankine, I have liked what Gun have produced so far. And just to throw my tuppence worth in, Dante is technically a far superior singer to Mark!
The press release with this album states that it’s a return to the bands rockier roots and the opening track ‘She Knows‘ just completely knocks your socks off. With a superb riff the song rattles a long at fair pace with bass and drums firmly driving it. New boy Tommy Gentry absolutely rips it up during the solo. Primetime Gun! Next up is ‘Here’s Where I Am‘ which revolves around an almost 70s drum beat and while it rocks, there is a tip of the hat to their pop sensibilities. The title track ‘Favourite Pleasures‘ funks up proceedings with a crisp, hard-edged rhythm and Gizzi almost spitting out the words. The album continues with ‘Take Me Down‘ which again for me is primetime crossover Gun combining their rock roots with a whole range of contemporary influences, which is basically the Gun hallmark. ‘Silent Lovers‘ bounces along on a bouncing rhythm and sounds like it draws on influences such as 70s pop rock and punk/new wave while rocking along.
‘Black Heart‘ stomps along on an almost walking rhythm and then bursts into a real stomp for the short bridge and powering into the chorus before dropping back into the opening riff. It also has some great string arrangements. Next up is ‘Without You In My Life‘ which starts with a slashing guitar riff that wouldn’t sit out of place on an early Clash album. However, with all the other elements of the arrangement it sounds edgy, contemporary and original. ‘Tragic Heroes‘ opens up like it could have been on any of the first two Gun albums but sounds fresh and modern rather than a band trying to just re-tread their own footsteps. They also cleverly cram a lot into just over three and a half minutes. Next up is the vitriolic ‘Go To Hell‘ with Dante sneering the lyrics at whoever has to go to hell with the juxtaposition of the chorus and the ‘love, love, love, love’ chorus. Rocks but has an almost new wave feel too it. The final song on the album proper for me is quite possibly the standout track. Entitled ‘The Boy Who Fooled the World‘, it opens with just piano and vocals. Melody-wise, it reminds me of Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins at their sublime best. A fitting closer for the album proper and sublime in its own right.
The review version of the album has five bonus tracks with it. First up is a cover of ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)‘ with a guitar sound that the Young Brothers would be pleased with! This is followed by ‘20 Storeys‘ which I thought might have been a variation on the Jelly Piece Song (Glaswegians over a certain age will know what I am talking about)! ‘Come Undone‘ is next and is the pick of the bonus tracks for me. The throbbing bass line is contrasted by the almost muted guitar picking across the top and with a grooving chorus – great stuff! ‘Next is All I really Need‘ and we get the classic Gun crossover sound drawing a range of any one of a number of alternative rock influences, but rocking all the same. Last, and by no means least there is ‘Whisky and a Prayer‘. This has an awesome edgy groove with the riff and the vocals and all crammed into just three minutes!
So, do I think this album lives up to its billing of being a return to Gun’s rock roots? Damn tooting and then some. However, in returning to those roots, the sheer diversity of influences that have always been there still remain. Being an old fart I can hear influences from the 70s as diverse as Slade, Bowie and Zeppelin as well as alternative stuff such as Manic Street Preachers and the Clash. There are also more contemporary influences I can hear such as Muse. However, what the guys do is take these influences and carve out a little niche of their own and sound like…well, they sound like Gun! Just as they always have done! This is easily the best Gun album since they reformed and definitely since they burst on to the seen with Taking on the World. If you really are a Gun fan, set aside your hankering for Mark Rankin, and get with the programme. If you don’t, your missing some quite stunning sounds and in age of quantised, digitised, soundalike bullshit where it is becoming rarer and rarer!