Four-piece London England band VAMBO plays the kind of pop-rock that embodies the flashy, blazing splendor of the 1970s.
On Friday 6 November their self-titled debut album is re-released, newly re-packaged as “Vambo Deluxe” (with the original uncouth & tasteless cover removed, to be replaced by one that is so inconspicuous & dark that it recalls those immortal words: how much more black could this be? And the answer is none more black!)
The new album is issued by Goliath Records, through Universal Music, with additional tracks, including: “Paradise”, “Mistaken Identity,” “Total Jeopardy,” “Dancing with the Devil (Acoustic)” and a live recording of Deep Purple classic “Burn.”
The album was produced and mastered by MUD bassist Ray Stiles, and it’s fair to say that his interpretation does justice to the band’s reverberant vitality and unwavering oomph.
“We take our inspiration from early 70s hard rock, but we keep our interpretation contemporary — inspired but not copied,” says front-man lead singer, Jack Stiles (Ray’s son) : “We are very big on melody and dynamic, not just shredding guitar solos and ‘check out how fast I can play the drums’. We aren’t that political, our lyrics aren’t super deep and metaphorical, but we can rock as good as anybody. No song on this album is the same… that would be boring.”
“Now You See Me” is a rewarding mix of flavorful riffs paired with premium vocal felicities that are slightly more psyched (slightly more) than the Chinnichap branded material of the mid-1970s. Kinda Smokie meets The Sweet‘s heavier end. In other words, the song lacks the kind of lunkiness and pugnaciousness you’d expect from a 21st century rock band. Neither, to be fair, does it have the physical strength or badass physical feel that we’d get from Bad Company or AC/DC back in the early days.
“Why Why Why” is a shamelessly salacious. Skipping over the clichéd lyrics for a moment (perhaps, hopefully, they are used ironically), this is a gratifying and enjoyable slice of rock ‘n’ roll that brings bubbly guitars, carbonated drums, and midair vocals. The fascinating & psychedelic centerpiece of the number, at roughly two minutes in, becomes an expertly crafted piece of instrumental jiggery-pokery and reminds us, to some extent, of Whitesnake at their “Still of the Night” era. It elevates this number exponentially.
“World of Misery” has an agile, Deep Purple approach and expressive style. It’s full of sparkle, with flexible bass notes, highly polished percussion, and wonderfully lacquered vocals.
While “Fast Car” (lyric video shared below) is a luscious serving of Aerosmith style rock flamboyancy, featuring swirling guitars, vigorous chords, fast-paced rhythms and dizzying vocals. It’s frivolous and bubble-headed and pretty straightforward (in an adorable way) so you’ll see beyond the obvious superficialism and enjoy this for what it is — a no-fuss bottle of rhinestone pop.
Is there a place for this kind of sound in 2020? Yes, of course there is. Is it exceptional, innovative or transformative? Well, of course it isn’t. But will it make your heart happy? Oh yeah!
File alongside: Cats In Space, Geeza
Words: @neilmach 2020 ©
Main image: Photo Credit: © Rob Blackham