A unique story in itself, WHITFORD/ST. HOLMES is a cool and atypical rock n’ roll tale. Originally formed in 1981, WHITFORD/ST. HOLMES put out a self-titled, ten track LP, but they went their separate ways. With Derek St. Holmes (TED NUGENT, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP et al), on lead vocals/guitar, and Brad Whitford (AEROSMITH, JOE PERRY PROJECT) on guitar/backing vocals, they have teamed together once again. This time they reunited in Nashville and have brought forth Reunion (out now, Mailboat Records). The pair bring with them Troy Luccketta (TESLA) on skins, Chopper Anderson (bass) and Buck Johnson (keyboards).
According to their web page, the fivesome are “all old-school rockers, super-passionate about rock ‘n’ roll, the music that moved us as teenagers”. I’m also from that “old school” and I gotta tell ya, it so reminds me of the really refined 70’s rock n’ roll, that deep southern rockin’ blues, deeply felt stuff that everyone loved. So let’s get started. “Shapes’ kicks things off with a classy, ‘70’s Detroit/southern rock mesh. Sort of reminds me of that old school .38 SPECIAL sound. It’s Holmes’ debut and he’s still got the pipes. “Tender is the Night” follows, with some very tasty keyboard and skillful perfectly placed solo guitar work. A nice mellow ballad with hard-working American lyrics. If you like older JOHN MELLENCAMP, you should really enjoy this track.
“Rock All Day” is slightly faster and drips with a southern gentleman confidence and straightforwardness. It is a great blend. “Hot for You” perhaps being the continuation of the previous song, one can definitely hear where AEROSMITH got some of their influence. I think the chicks will really dig this tune, which just so happens to have finished feminine backing harmony and a touch of bluesy harmonica. Fifth in line is “Catch My Fall”, definitely the most romantic song on the production. These three are very refined and I think that they go together in the same block.
Picking up the pace is “Hell is On Fire”. St Holmes knocks it out of the park with his well recognized, very strong vocals. A fairly short tune, guitars and bass dominate this rock and roll headlock. “Shake It” ain’t about salt and pepper. This toe tapper deserves cranking up in the Ford F-150, baby. This is one swanky tune, with perfectly placed solos. It shows off the talent of this band. Everyone shines on this one. “Gotta Keep On Movin’” pulls out some nice meshed southern and bluesy rock and tasty guitar riffs. “Flood of Lies” finishes up the album with what seems a very strong Whitford influence in this track.
As St. Holmes and Whitford are so well associated as supporting roles in other bands, I kept expecting to hear some tracks similar to their other works. Not to disappoint anyone, but while yes, you hear St. Holmes’ influence in NUGENT songs, and Whitford in AEROSMITH tunes, they left that all behind. They proved they can knock it out of the park without the flashy celebrities and famous front men and go forward with their own talented group of musos.
As excellent guitarists as these guys are, I was hoping for a little more fast-paced rock and roll, which it does not have, so I will pull it just short of a perfect score. However, everything is excellently done, it’s a gem, and I feel honored to have reviewed it. Superb effort gentlemen. My \m/etal fedora is off to you. Salude’
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM