STUCK MOJO - The Great Revival
November 22, 2008, 11 years ago
Rich Ward is in a hallowed group of three for me, of unsung geniuses I’ve been meaning to write a big-ass 20 page essay on, each, the others being Kevin Moore and Adrian Belew. Yeah, yeah, blank stares, but I’ll convince you one day. But man, even still, years later, I’ve been listening heavily to Fozzy’s masterpiece All That Remains (perhaps the greatest album of the last ten years) and the previous Stuck Mojo, Southern Born Killers, my recent workout CD, and not all that old. Surprised to see this irresistible band back so soon. And yeah, with The Great Revival, which I totally love, it’s going to be even harder proselytizing you over to Rich’s brilliance (in no less than production, riff-writing, singing and lyrics - yeah, he’s that good). Why? Because what he’s crafted here is actually a commercial, melodic, less nasty rap metal record than the last, or all of them. It’s basically The Duke (that damn thing should have been six times platinum) meets Southern Born Killers. Like with anything Rich does, you could enjoy this album for hours just as a production clinic – for example, where he wants - see ‘Now That You’re Alone’ - he effortlessly gets on tape the best Bonham drum sound and performance since the last time anybody this smart tried. Later, there’s the poignant ‘Country Road’ where a man from a broken family promises to sing mom her favourite song. ‘Friends’, at the drop of a hat, features a sublime and glassy-eyed Van Halen/Vai, rich-of-tone jag of chords for its sequence or riff or frame… summery, top-down, and then a chorus that metalheads are gonna throw their hands up and call way too mushy. Sod them. Lord Nelson even croons on one of these, and there’s also the gorgeous female vocals massaged in perfectly, right where you want them, presumably courtesy of the same gal used on Fozzy and The Duke. It’s criminal and even sad to me that this album is going to be ridiculed by some as badly as The Duke was, for the surface jab of commerciality, and here also for Rich’s seemingly daft insistence on making what is squarely rap metal. But you know what? Ward is the one guy who can make a record so great that it transcends any tag, even that denigrated one, just like The Police and The Cars got so legendary you couldn’t see the shittiness of their band names even when squinting right at them. Guitar tones, effects, Ward’s usual evangelical samples, slide, acoustic… ha ha, I hate to make the comparison, but as an example of the huge, vaulted ambition of the guy, the first 30 seconds of ‘Country Road’ contain an album and a half’s worth of the sounds and mashes and all that “innovation” that Kid Rock gets lauded for. Look, if Rich is just getting too old for the kids, and he’s beating his head against the wall, which he might be making rap metal records (on Napalm!), there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a millionaire songwriter for hard-rocking country acts and other stadium bands who want smash hits again. And people know this… they know the power and inspiration of Rich – that’s why the greatest Zakk Wylde solo ever is on ‘Wanderlust’ which is on Fozzy’s goddamn All That Remains, and that’s why that solo is arguably the greatest guitar solo of all time.