Album Review: The Peckham Cowboys – “Ten Tales From The Gin Palace”
When The Peckham Cowboys’ new offering ‘Ten Tales from the Gin Palace’ finally fell through my letter box and reached my impatient, clamouring mitts, I may or may not have emitted a noise of some glee (I did). And when the first few bars of the album opener ‘Not Guilty!’ swirled outward from the stereo speakers like thick smoke, it may or may not have been a thing of sheer, unadulterated beauty (it was).
A few weeks ago, bassist Nigel Mogg proudly declared on Facebook that he was “in the last rock n roll band in the world” (naturally adding that he’d “nut” anyone who disagreed), and I’m quite inclined to agree with him (though not just because he’d nut me otherwise). They don’t call themselves Cowboys for nothing, this isn’t a finely-tuned commercial machine, it’s a wayward band of brothers bound by a passion for their raw and truthful art. It’s a beast oozing at its haphazardly-stitched seams with that sublimely menacing ‘anything could happen’, ‘hanging by a thread’ sort of swagger and that ‘men your mother warned you about’ dangerous sort of charm. But the rock n roll ethos doesn’t go very far by itself, it needs genuine talent and solid, well-scripted songs to back it up and make it all mean something. The Peckham Cowboys have all of the above in spades.
Much more diverse and eclectic than the band’s debut, this album lurches from one filthy rock n roll hit to another, but with the odd curveball thrown in to keep you on your toes. Mixed in amongst the throbbing, writhing seductions of ‘Bromley Girls’, the gritty, rasping rhythm of ‘Quarantine’ and the slow, sprawling swagger of ‘Poor Boy Blues’, there’s the unexpected hit of something bordering on ska with the pogoing ‘Debt Collector’ and even a dose of something vaguely dark-reggae in ‘Don’t Damn the Hypnotist’.
For me, though, the two stand-out tracks on this album have to be the first and last, bookending this musical joyride in two rugged and deliciously gritty offerings. The former, ‘Not Guilty!’, as the lone, demure exclamation mark might suggest, is a victory march, a middle finger, and a rock n roll triumph. From its immediately-arresting (no pun intended) intro to its gloriously swirling crescendo, there is nothing not to love about this raucous musical celebration. And the latter, ‘Knocked Senseless’, with its infectious, driving rhythm and sixties-style swagger only gets more addictive with every listen.
Ten Tales from the Gin Palace is released on 14 February through Cargo records. If you have any interest in pure, passionate, from-the-f**king-heart, goodtime blues, I suggest you treat yourself.