CD Reviews

The Outlaws - 'Los Hombres Malo' / 'In The Eye of The Storm' Hot

Added by James Gaden     March 26, 2018    
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A two-for-one reissue of the band's 1979 and 1982 albums.

As described in the review of the reissued 'Lady In Waiting', after the departure of Henry Paul, The Outlaws brought in Freddie Salem and changed their sound to a more conventional rock feel on their excellent 1979 album 'Playin' To Win'. They would follow that up with 'In The Eye Of The Storm', which makes up the second half of this set, so we'll deal with that first.

Continuing in the more straightforward southern rock style they first displayed on 'Playin' To Win', the album kicks off with the rollicking 'Lights Are On (But Nobody's Home)' which combines a driving rock feel with the bands trademark harmony work. Salem would chip in with 'Long Gone', a driving rocker he would revisit on his first solo effort 'Cat Dance'.

'It's All Right' shows the band deliver one of their catchiest efforts yet with some soaring vocals from Hughie Thomasson while the album's left turn comes in the form of a cover of Elvis Costello's 'Miracle Man'. While not an obvious choice on paper, The Outlaws guitar-heavy take works brilliantly and proves to be an inspired choice.

'Comin' Home' has a real swing about it while the brooding 'Blueswater' is another real standout. '(Come On) Dance With Me' waves the southern rock flag high and 'Too Long Without Her' tips it's hat to the earlier Outlaws sound, with Thomasson channeling the vibe found on the first three albums. Also of real importance is the phenomenal 'I'll Be Leaving Soon' which rocks hard and boasts a great guitar solo.

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'In The Eye Of The Storm' is one of the most underrated efforts by The Outlaws in my book and it's presence here is worthy of the reissue price alone. However, the first half of the disc is made up of not the 1980 follow up 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' (which was reissued alongside 'Playin' To Win') but 1982's 'Los Hombres Malo'. It's fair to say The Outlaws were running out of steam at this point. Billy Jones had departed and, unlike Henry Paul, was not replaced, with Salem and Thomasson deciding their guitars and lead vocalists were enough. They did bring in keyboard player Gary Lyons however, and the album starts off well enough. Salem's hard hitting 'Don't Stop' sets the bar high, and the brilliant 'Foxtail Lily' benefits greatly on the infectious chorus from some female backing vocals, which help bolster the diminished harmony sound that was such a distinctive part of the band.

As the title track of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' had given The Outlaws a much needed hit, it seemed there was some pressure to duplicate it here, with a variety of outside writers being utilised. The group take a crack at Survivor's 'Rebel Girl' with average results and also record 'All Roads' which was penned by Survivor's Jim Peterik and legendary rocker Sammy Hagar. While 'Los Hombres Malo' is probably the most straight ahead rock record they made, it's certainly one of the weakest Outlaws efforts, for the simple fact that there is no Henry Paul, no Billy Jones and very little of the classic sound that made the band who they were in the first place.

While Los Hombres Malo' is far from an essential addition to your Outlaws collection, it's not totally without merit and the fact it has been paired with the much stronger 'In The Eye Of The Storm' sweetens the deal greatly. Had it been issued alone I'd have been less thrilled, but as a two-albums-on-one-disc deal, it's well worth picking up, even if it's only for the second half.

James Gaden

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