I’m a suspicious kind of guy, what can I say? Maybe it has something to do with the policing here in the United Kingdom, maybe it has something to do with reading Nietzsche at a young age… whatever it is, I’m a cynic. So when bands turn up on stage wearing 70s-looking clothing and playing 70s-sounding music with their 70s-looking amps and vintage guitars, I think ‘Hey! Somebody’s having me on. It’s forty years too late dudes!’
The Golden Grass look, sound and dress like they’re from the 70s. Not Bowie and Bolan’s glitter-and-cocaine British 70s, more like the fall-out-of-the-Summer-of-Love/post-Easy Rider 70s, where the beards got longer and the clothes got more fringes and the hair got frizzier. Compare Gene Clark of the first Byrds album to the Gene Clark of Two Sides to Every Story. Dig it? Good. It’s also worth noting that while throwback/retro clothing is cool now, at the time it was the ‘in’ thing to do – so the modern equivalent of those folks are the dudes we know as ‘chavs’. Will it be cool in forty years to wear tracksuits and shave patterns into your hair? I fucking hope not.
However, when Momma told you not to judge a book by its perfectly-arranged-era-representative cover, she was giving good advice. The music, as you’d expect, is a flawless facsimile of bands that grew out of the lysergic optimism of the late 60s into the booze-drenched horrorshow instigated by the Hell’s Angels at Altamont, the deaths of Jones, Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin, and the whole Charles Manson debacle.
The record kicks off with ‘Please Man’, which opens in a foggy bluster of howling feedback, before a killer rhythm eases you back in time brotha! It’s almost like you’re there, even if you never were. The blissful backing vocals elevate you, and the tasty guitar leads reek of weed smoke and refried beans. The journeys up the fretboard make your head nod and your feet tap – that’s if you aren’t already up dancing to the righteous groove!
‘Stuck On A Mountain’ is like flopping on the sofa after a walk in the sunshine – the stoner-pop vibe is infectious. It’s like Creedence at their most freewheelin’ or Hawkwind at their happiest – think their acid-soaked first record for a clue. ‘One More Time’ follows, and that’s where the record collectors get their speculation hats on – do they sound like Cactus? Steppenwolf? Iron Butterfly? Blue Öyster Cult? All I can say is ‘More cowbell.’ The catch-line “Easy Rider womaaaaan” hangs around in your head for days, whether you want it to or not.
‘Wheels’ is a titanic effort – nearly thirteen minutes of pure rock and roll mayhem. If you were lucky enough to hear progressive records before they became ‘Prog’ (or not) you’ll be blown away by the chops and innovation on display on this track. There’s monstrous, enormous bass grooves going down. There’s some Space Ace guitar fireworks. There’s even a fucking drum solo! You know Peter Criss’ tom-tom-bashing odysseys? Or those drumathons Neil Peart knocks out with alarming regularity? That kinda drum solo. When was the last time you remember listening to a thirteen minute Rush track and enjoying it? And was it from a record released well before 2014? Yeah? Well dig ‘Wheels’ straight away.
‘Sugar N’ Spice’ is the baddest motha on the record – the fattest fuzz bass you don’ heard in too long, the spiciest leads and smoothest vibe you’re gonna lay your ears on today. It barrels along like your finest vintage LPs – think Creedence’s trio of 69 records, or that first Blue Öyster Cult record that Lester Bangs dug so hard. It sounds to these ears like a pissed Kiss jamming in your neighbours’ garden on a sunny day– imagine no more, folks, your wildest dreams have indeed come true.
The guitars are never too abrasive, the riffs never too complex, the bass never too overbearing and the drums – shit, the drums are spot-on. I can promise you this – records like this make me less of a cynic and more of a ‘fuck it, this rocks!’ kinda dude. And if it has that effect on me, you can bet your vintage Pentagram tour shirt it’ll do the same for you.
If you have ever wondered what Kiss would sound like if they didn’t go disco on Dynasty, but went down the prog route – or if Rush took a liking to the Dead and starting playing looser and groovier – this record has your answers. And a whole heap of extra taste, too. Don’t let people tell you they sound like Zeppelin (too loose), or that fans of The Black Angels will be into it (not a sinister vibe in sight). But just listen to it already.
Call your guy, get him to fix you a nice bag, and let The Golden Grass do the rest. Peace out.
Scribed by: Ross Horton