Simple yet devilishly effective...
Much like buying a tin of Heinz beans, you know exactly what you’re going to get with a Danko Jones album. A Rock Supreme is his ninth(!) album and doesn’t disappoint.
In the beginning he was lumped in with that wave of bands such as Gluecifer, Hellacopters, Turbonegro, et cetera, but over the years he’s honed his trademark blend of hard rock with a tinge of punk, stripping away any excess baggage and just keeping the parts that matter the most.
The album kicks off with I’m In A Band, a song that manages to encapsulate Danko’s spirit and infectious enthusiasm in less than four minutes. The lyric “All I want to do play my guitar and rock and roll” might sound trite out of context, but I defy anyone to listen to this and not wish they were doing exactly that.
Both I Love Love and We’re Crazy launch in double time before rolling into the chorus, followed by the more laid back groove of Dance Dance Dance.
Lipstick City is standard hard rock with a chorus that brings latter-day Turbonegro to mind, and Fists Up High shows that judicious use of a cowbell is the perfect seasoning for any song.
Party raises the tempo a touch, though remains curiously sparse and not quite in keeping with the title. You Got Today opens with a very cheeky riff worthy of Billy Gibbons and a vocal delivery in the verse that is more than a wink to Walk This Way.
That Girl is a definite nod to Phil Lynott, but without actually being a mere clone. And that’s why Danko Jones works so well for me; with so many bands springing up that seem more keen on recreating an ‘authentic’ classic rock sound than actually writing decent songs, it’s a breath of fresh air. Jones utilises all the same influences, but it’s delivered in a package that somehow sounds modern, and played with such infectious brio that you’d have to be a cynical bastard to hate it.
Leaving the best until (almost) last, Burn in Hell opens with a riff so fantastic and wonderfully simple that you’ll wonder how no one else had thought of it in the last forty years, then a – literally – two-note riff for the verse that’ll kick your backside into next week. This is Jones at his most deadly; when everything is properly whittled down to ones and zeros, and with the band playing like they’re on fire and trying to put themselves out.
If there’s a weakness then it’s probably the lyrics, which occasionally swerve from the standard rock and roll tropes peppered with innuendo to outright, toe-curling single entendre. That said, you’ll not be listening to this and expecting Thomas Pynchon.
And while it’s Danko’s name on the cover, I feel his backing band need a special mention. You can’t play music like this without a tight and dynamic rhythm section (see Phil Rudd/Cliff Williams), and these guys are more in the pocket than Steve Davis.
A Rock Supreme is probably my favourite Danko Jones record since 2006’s Sleep is the Enemy, and testament to Mr Jones’ steadfast dedication to his vision. If ever there was a band to make you dust off the tennis racquet and leap around the bedroom (middle age notwithstanding), then this is it. Roll on album number ten!
A Rock Supreme is out now.