JIZZY PEARL – Crucified

Jizzy PearlIn terms of consistency Love/Hate kind of fizzled out after the release of the somewhat under-rated ‘Let’s Rumble’ in 1993.  The band soldiered on for another six years (with varying line-ups, issuing another three records), but despite best efforts from those later years (and the band almost blowing Gilby Clarke off stage in London during a 2002 tour), for most people, Love/Hate will always be best-loved for the tunes on 1990’s ‘Blackout In The Red Room’ debut.

Given that Love/Hate recorded a debut record they struggled to equal, it comes as a great surprise that ‘Crucified’, a long-overdue comeback EP from their one-time frontman Jizzy Pearl – frontman with Quiet Riot at the time of this release – is as strong as it is.  Ever the underdog with something to prove, Pearl dishes up six numbers that are strong enough on their own terms.

‘Hanging You Out To Dry’ sets out the stall with clear intentions, with its mix of arrogance and hard-hitting rock marking the return in as direct a manner as possible.  The drums adopt a harsh garage rock tone, while the guitar lines are equally hard.  Over this rather brash set up, Pearl spits his lyrics venomously, time ensuring that his scratchy voice rarely sounds as shrill as it did some two decades previously, but in terms of general delivery, still very much sounding like a man who’s more than up to the task, his brazen attitude there for all to hear.  It’s not until ‘Sunny Day’ hits that things start to sound more like Love/Hate (after years being that band’s mouthpiece, there’s always gonna be something comparable).  Sure, it’s not got the glam edge of his former band’s debut – that would just be far too out of step with the climate in which this was recorded – but it’s bluesy, sleazy elements that carry through hint at parts of ‘Wasted’ and beyond, while a fuller vocal allows a little more of Jizzy to shine.  While a strong pair of opening numbers, these are likely to please long-term fans of Pearl’s work, but unlikely to open any new ears…  That said, those unfamiliar with Jizzy or any of his earlier works might find some musical pleasure in the tunes that follow if they keep an open mind.  Although bringing plenty of 70s influence via it’s ringing guitars, ‘You’re Making Me Nervous’ is by far this mini-album’s weakest tune.  The guitars find themselves in a strong position – as does Pearl, vocally speaking – but the rhythm section are uninspired, rarely breaking from a solid, on the beat stomp.  It sounds better played loudly, but given the other tunes on this disc, you know the band are capable of so much more…and so much better.

Thankfully, it’s just a temporary blip, as during the second half of the release, things really pick up. The neo-psychedelic ‘Love Is All’ weaves a gently droning magic which sounds like Love/Hate tackling something from The Cult’s ‘Ceremony’ album from ’91; Pearl’s vocal performance stretches a little farther than on the majority of these tracks, while a well-played lead guitar weaves among the tribal rhythm.  Even better, the more sedate ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Baby’ is a semi-acoustic workout that recalls the likes of Kik Tracee’s wondrous ‘Big Western Sky’ and a couple of the early Quireboys ballads.  The combination of acoustic rhythms, slightly scratchy voice and Hammond organ is near-timeless in its 70s appeal…but what shifts this track from good to absolutely killer is the presence of a brilliant guitar solo.  Although too short by half, the couple of bars filled by bluesy noodlings easily catches the ear.  Thankfully, similar tones lead off ‘Too Late’, a thoughtful, drowsy soft rock offering showcasing the finer end of Pearl’s vocal range.  A reasonably strong chorus combined with some sweet guitar work ensures something memorable as a closing piece.  The blend of slightly gruff harmony vocals and effortless guitar lines ought to be enough to silence any naysayers…

Almost a decade and a half after the last Love/Hate material surfaced, ‘Crucified’ could have bombed.  So much time has passed and although also a published author, so many people could have forgotten about Pearl’s talent in the interim. However, this mini-album’s combination of raw production and sharp riffs ensures good, trashy entertainment throughout, while the acoustic leanings of the later tracks show the greatest potential from Pearl since, well, what feels like forever. Much like Ugly Kid Joe’s unlikely 2012 comeback recording ‘Stairway To Hell’, it’s proof enough that you can’t always keep a good artiste down…

December 2013