Album Review: The Hangmen – “East Of Western”
The description of a band as “rock ‘n’ roll survivors” has been overused ever since Sir Keef of Richards first sparked up a cheeky one back in the ’60s. However, in the case of the Hangmen, it’s pretty near the mark. Rising up during the Sunset Strip scene of the ’80s, they were always a bit leaner and meaner than many of the peroxided pretty-boys doing the rounds at the time. Similar to the Sea Hags or the Four Horsemen, they peddled a more Brit-oriented brand of blues rock which was closer to the Dogs D’Amour or the Quireboys than Motley Crue or G’n’R.
Still going strong 20 years on (though drug problems and jail spells put them out of action for most of the ’90s), they still pack a punch which would send many of the Camden Crue Clones and the Classic Rock approved “let’s all pretend it’s still 1975” bores running for the hills in fear. This is proper wrong-side-of-the-tracks angry bluesy rock ‘n’ roll from the opening power chords that send “Homesick Blues” barrelling in to knock you across the room. While the likes of “I’m Your Man” are the sort of hell-for-leather three-minute rock ‘n’ roll riff-fests that’ll appeal to any Social Distortion or Supersuckers fans out there (indeed, ex-Supersuckers sticksman Ron Heathman is now manning the drums for the Hangmen), the downbeat country blues of “Had A Girl”, the chugging juggernaut of a riff underpinning “Big Red Rooster” and the pure angry nihilism of “Drink Smoke” prove that this band are definitely capable of varying their output a bit.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys listening to late ’60s/early ’70s Stones or Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers then I think it’s safe to say that “East Of Western” should be near the top of your shopping list. Bruised, bitter, angry and loaded with riffs and hooks to draw you in, this is authentic bad boy rock ‘n’ roll that a lot of bands try to carry off but few manage with any panache. Definitely one of my favourite albums of 2012 so far.