Friday, December 07, 2018

Terry & Louie - ...A Thousand Guitars

I shared my preliminary top five albums of the year list on social media the other night, and a major caveat was that it was all subject to change with the imminent arrival of Terry & Louie's debut long player. And sure enough, ...A Thousand Guitars has me reshuffling my list! I've had high hopes for this release since one particular member of this celebrated duo contacted me 20 months ago to warn me that "this album is gonna have your ears melted down the sides of your face". Let me tell you: he wasn't wrong! Terry & Louie spent a number of years writing this material and getting the recordings just the way they wanted them. I must say that was time well invested.

A lot of people will assume that a joint project involving Terry Six and Louie Bankston (of the late and beloved Exploding Hearts) would have to be the ultimate power pop experience. But while there are some great power pop songs on ...A Thousand Guitars, I think trying to cram this album into one particular genre pigeonhole does it a great disservice. This is a record that touches on nearly every significant style of rock n' roll from the last 60 years. It incorporates everything from punk to power pop to glam rock to '60s pop to pub rock to new wave to '70s arena rock. Many of these songs are reminiscent of both artists' previous bands, but ultimately what defines Terry & Louie is the way their individual talents come together to form a unique songwriting partnership. These are two tremendously talented dudes, and the musical chemistry they possess as a duo is undeniable. As the one-sheet for this album eloquently puts it, their story stems from loss and heartbreak. Fortunately for all of us, that story continues on.

You may recognize that the album title ...A Thousand Guitars is a Nick Lowe reference. It's also a perfect descriptor for this release - which delivers riffs, licks, and solos to the highest degree. Supported by drummer Aaron Hill (Missing Monuments), bassist Chad Savage (Battleme, The Savage Family Band), and mix-master to the stars Pat Kearns, Terry & Louie have turned out ten stellar tracks representing the finest in hook-laden rock n' roll. The duo comes out shooting fire on opener "Rebel Ways" - a glammy rocker worthy of anthem status. And while tracks such as "Broken Forever" and the immensely danceble "It's All Mine" tow the expected power pop line, I love that this record is full of surprises (which I suppose I'm about to ruin!). "Pink Razor Blade" brings together melodramatic vocals, doo-wop harmonies, bubblegum handclaps, a thunderous rock chorus, and a guitar break worthy of Thin Lizzy. "Cheated By Love", which successfully alternates between reggae and radio pop, sounds like something Joe Jackson might have written 40 years ago. Within seconds of my first listen to "(I've Got The) Highway To Take", I thought Malcolm Young had come back from the dead. The title track's marriage of riff rock boogie and ringing melodies brings to mind the immortal Big Star. I've gone through all ten tracks numerous times, and I can't find a clunker in the bunch. Start to finish, this is an album that shows you what great songwriting is all about.

Available now from Bachelor Records in Europe, ...A Thousand Guitars will have its American release next month on Terry's label Tuff Break. Somehow the band was able to sneak this album onto some of the streaming platforms a while back without anybody actually noticing. But with vinyl set to ship from Bachelor HQ, I hope people will save spots on their year-end top ten lists for this long-anticipated release. Years ago, long before Terry & Louie formed as a duo, I secretly hoped that they would make music together again someday. Those first two singles did not disappoint. But they were merely a prelude to ...A Thousand Guitars. The fellas knocked it out of the park with this one!


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