At the end of 2017, Watts tried to convince us they were ‘All Done With Rock & Roll’. They then took a little time out to work on other projects before returning with a string of singles cementing their reputation as one of the greatest retro sounding bands of the era.
Their ‘Seventeen’ release (a digital single issued in March 2020) ranked among their very best recordings. By blending a Replacements-ish trashiness and a horn section directly inspired by The Stones’ ‘Bitch’, Watts sounded like a band who’d reached full maturity. The song sounded like the culmination of everything they’d been working towards over the previous five years. …And then, everything seemed to go quiet. Obviously, a global pandemic did nothing for the band’s momentum and upward trajectory, but it began to feel like their next album would never arrive.
That long awaited fifth album is finally released on May 14th. ‘Shady Rock & Rollers’ brings together those previously released digital singles (going back as far as ‘All Done With Rock ‘n’ Roll) and offers fans a selection of previously unheard tunes that promise to add a little more to the growing Watts legacy. The first brand new taste of the album comes via ‘Heavy Metal Kids’, which couples an early Black Crowes influenced riff to a punchy rhythm – instantly setting up something in the “classic Watts” mould, while a ragged vocal steers a surprising pop melody between the overdriven riffs with ease. Just enough to stop it becoming Watts-by-numbers, a quick burst of Brian May-esque harmonics punch through the instrumental break, before a final rousing chorus sounds like Dan Kopko and John Blout have overdosed on classic Mott The Hoople during lockdown. It’s fair to say it bodes extremely well for the new LP.
Take a listen below.
You can also read a review of The Shang Hi-Los ‘Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit’ (featuring Dan Kopko) here.