Four Wheel Drive Photo Credit @neilmach ©

FOUR WHEEL DRIVE — High Roller Retro Album Review


And to celebrate the one-night-only 10th Anniversary FOUR WHEEL DRIVE original line-up  High Roller Show at Camden this Saturday, we decided to share our retro review, first published in February 2010…

High Roller Album Review

Four Wheel Drive Photo Credit @neilmach ©
Four Wheel Drive Photo Credit @neilmach ©

With their catchy head banging compulsive choruses, sweet as honey-trap guitar licks, and piping hot lead guitar breaks with vocals that gasp due to hi-octane dependency – Four Wheel Drive put on one hell of a live show. So we expected nothing less from their new album “High Roller” – produced by Misha Nikolic at Monster Track. (Half Ton Records). And we were not disappointed. With production as slick as the suntan oil that’s found on the damp-smooth parts of a Texan sports-illustrated swim-wear model, this exuberant offering is drenched in tequila, whiffs of Marlboro smoke and is as taut and tempting as a showgirl’s G-string.

From the first track, ‘White Lines’ (for us the stand-out track on this recording) with its backdrop of crisp ‘n crunchy rhythms and croaking charcoal vocals, the album springs to life with the kind of vitality you thought might have been lost back in 1980.

The boys seem to have time traveled here from the Bon Scott era – but that is no bad thing. ‘Cos back then we got treble the excitement: a pressure cooker of rock ‘n’ roll antics and music as hot as a hooker’s hosiery. It is about time we reinvested some of our latent energy into supporting and backing this kinda pure and simple rock and roll.

Four Wheel Drive Photo Credit @neilmach ©
Four Wheel Drive Photo Credit @neilmach ©

Blood on the Walls’ is another wheezing, rasping romp from the feelgood southernmost-point of the 4WD catalogue of rock. This song is a hot-tub of hoochie-coochie tension and you will feel the warm Dixieland sun smiling through each high-note. ‘High Roller’ encompasses startling cascades of percussion from Will and shrieking vocals from Jamie – these are stretched as tight and dangerous as a nervous holdup man’s stocking mask. This is one of their many AC/DC sounding tracks – a real motoring, hammering song that rivets home its message deep into your skull.

The Visions Gone’ was created with short, brisk brush-strokes and has bar-room, blackjack, stubbly lyrics and swaggering sneering, cocksure vocals… it’s the kinda thing you’d expect to hear in a low-down, dirty dive. ‘The Game’ has the trills and juicy jolts of jostling chords enlightened by lyrical lead guitar, and also embracing some embroidered work by rhythm guitar and percussion. This is the first of a few Stonesy tracks from the 1970’s.

Six Foot Poster’ is an old style rock ‘n’ roll number with a boogie sounding cheese-board of bite sized flavorsome bits n pieces. ‘Big Fat and Ugly’ has an enduring bass led background, plus rumpy-dumpy thumpy bass-lines and powerfully expressive moments. ‘ Rough around the Edges ‘ also sounds like Rolling Stones (the ‘Tumbling Dice’ era) with counterpoints of puncturing sweet high notes set against a compelling backdrop of thrumming chords.

Take a Drag’ takes you further back still, and into rock n roll history with some dog-eared Eddie Cochranesque old-time rollick that includes gee-tar licks that even Chuck Berry would approve of.

Time to Go’ is another of our favorites. Tight as a Vegas strippers garter this one, with luminous lead, timely harmonic twists, and even a harmonica break. And this song incorporates a classy twin guitar tournament. It’s one helluva tune . “Roll up ladies and gentlemen it is time to go… ” and tickets for this rock-groove train are up for grabs.

If we had any criticisms of the album they would be few. This is an exuberant offering and at times the execution is tantalizing. Perhaps there is nothing crucial here. Furthermore, it could do with a few big fat slabs of chiming guitar in places that seem bland and even more memorable riffs. And, alas, that fine rumbling-tumbling percussion heard on the ‘High Roller’ track is not found elsewhere.

But HIGH ROLLER is feelgood, red-flamed, hot-blooded, and unashamedly rock n roll. This is about as good as it gets.

© Neil_Mach
February 2010

All pictures Photo Credit: @neilmach ©

4WD Neil Mach
4WD Picture Credit: © Neil Mach

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