Releasing a debut album that features special guests from the likes of Y&T, Thunder, Whitesnake, Magnum, UFO, Status Quo, Saxon, MSG and more, could prove a difficult beast – there could be a danger of producing a set of individually great quality tracks but without being able to bring a sense of oneness that should help identify an album as one that stands on it’s own merits (rather than the some of the parts that are the multitude ot the guest artists. With his debut solo album, Personal Sin”, Reuben Archer, vocalist with hard rockers Stampede and former vocalist of Lautrec, Wildhorses and Lionheart hopes to buck this possibility. The big question has to be….”can he do it?”
With 13 tracks produced by Reuben and Rob Wolverson and mastered by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden, Steve Harris). Set for an August 19 release, it will signal the debut release on the newly launched Toxic Arrow Records. Reuben, who reformed melodic hard rockers and NWOBHM stalwarts Stampede in 2009 and is currently fronting the live line up of the Paul Raymond Project, took the decision to team up with young hot-shot Stampede guitarist and multi-talented music virtuoso Rob Wolverson to make a solo record last year after celebrating a landmark birthday.
“I had some ideas and material knocking around which I’d wanted to explore for ages, which involved bigger production and more instrumentation than I’ve usually had with my other bands. I wanted a big melodic sound, and around the time of my 70th celebrations last year I thought that there was no time like the present to make it happen, especially since developing a great songwriting partnership with Rob”, explains Reuben.“The idea was always to invite fellow musicians to participate on the thirteen tracks, and I have been honoured to have so many eminent musician friends that I’ve made over the years who have lent their valuable talent and time to achieve the end result. Together with a core of great musician friends from around the Midlands, the project began to grow.”
On the subject of the title ‘Personal Sin’, Reuben comments: “Once you’re involved with rock ‘n’ roll it never leaves you; even in my case with a lengthy sabbatical I am still as passionate about it as I was back in ‘74 when I started. Rock ‘n’ roll gave me excitement pleasure and heartache too. Good times, bad times and at times personal grief. I know for a fact it’s never going to leave me; it is an integral part of my life.”
Without a shadow of doubt Reuben pulls it off. Each track sees the guests add alittle of their own particular magic but the common threads of Archer and Wolverson keep the whole show together. A fantastic record that blends the sort of melodic rock I loved (and once, in a time before TV shows told the public what to buy, ruled the airways) with soul and a hrad rock edge that belies the fact that Reuben has a couple of years more on the clock than is traditional.
Each track allows the band to really blow your mind. Opener “Bulletproof” is hard rock with a polish not disimilar to the heady days of Mutt Lange but defiantly rocking rather than the poppier elements so beloved by Mr Lange. Great chorus with groovy gang vocals, and there’s plenty of gritty guitar with Wolverson coming out riffing.
With first single “Play My Rock ‘N’ Roll” Archer shows that his ear has been paying attention to the recent rock – quality production, neat effects, and some great work from guest Rocky Newton and a chorus that screams out that these guys are just doing what comes naturally…. playing rock and roll!
“Personal Sin” has an almost ACDC-esque swagger (remembering that to really rock you MUST have some roll) all mixed in with some fantastically melodic guitar work.
What is for certain here is that all the songs whether rock belters or the more balladic (like “Time On My Side”), Reuben’s vocals never seem to look for the easy (lazy?) option that people with this kind of career can resort to. Whether this is from the influence of Rob Wolverson I don’t know – whatever it is it means that this is a record that sounds fresh and has an energy that really hits home. Sometimes you hear a record that on first listen it’s pretty good but doesn’t bear repeated listens. Others need to be lived with and “grow on you”. “Personal Sin” is neither of those – first listen is amazing and repeated listens just allow you to spot other little nuances and details. The cover of “Shakin’ All Over” has an energy and life that is rarely seen in such well known songs.
This album is one of the best surprises I have received this year. Quality I expected, what I couldn’t forsee was the ability of all involved to produce what should (if there was any justice in this business of music!) become one of the all time classic rock albums.
Reuben Archer’s Personal Sin track listing:
2. Play My Rock ‘n’ Roll (ft. Rocky Newton)
3. Personal Sin (ft. Dave Meniketti, Harry James & John ‘Rhino’ Edwards)
4. Lately (ft. Harry James & Kevin Riddles)
5. Time On My Hands (ft. Derek Holt & Steve Holbrook)
6. Desperation Train (ft. Luke Morley, Derek Holt & Steve Holbrook)
7. TV Junkie
8. Ace Café (ft. Paul Quinn, Harry James, John ‘Rhino Edwards’, Steve Holbrook)
9. Spanish Nights (ft. Steve Holbrook)
10. Reuben’s Blues (ft. Paul Quinn, Neil Murray, Paul Raymond)
11. Shakin’ All Over
12. Like A Clown
13. Sooner Or Later
Reuben Archer’s “Personal Sin” is released on 19th August 2013
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