Ken Hensley & Live Fire - 'Trouble'

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Ken Hensley & Live Fire - 'Trouble'

This makes as big as noise as those youngsters, but has class they might struggle to match.

Well, it's nice for him to get out. And that Hard Rocking energy is good cardio for gents of a certain age. Only joking of course, Ken may have been in the business nigh on 50 years and produced about as many albums, but he's still energised and now he's got a young band with him to keep him moving. There's a buzz about this fully electric encounter and it's not hard to see why.

The album is almost excellent. Ken has said that he will always have some 70s signatures in his work and thank goodness for it. One of those is the B3, the Hammond, that warm wash of notes that takes us back to a simpler time of 3 day weeks, oil crises and crushed velvet loons...ahem. And he has a band around him who can sell it, chunky yet homely, with a thick production to match. 'Ready To Die' is an opener to die for (yes, I did write that), a statement that what you wanted is about to happen, the backline stomping all over the big organ-backed riffs, a bubbly solo from Ken Ingwersen, classy retro rock. 'Trouble' might be even better, a list of where it can come from leading to an open, almost musical theatre soft centre, before big unfolding solos take us home. 'Todo Loco' could grace any Gillan Band album, slightly off kilter and with an enormous vocal performance from Roberto Tiranti which is uncannily like the more famous Mr G, whilst the jousting Auger-like organ and guitar on 'Please Explain' are a delight with a smooth chorus adding to the celebration.

There is trouble elsewhere, where their wish to keep it cool and historical can lead to retro by numbers (the numbers one, nine, seven and four, if you must know); 'I Don't Know' relying rather too much upon regular explosions of keys and frets to keep the attention whilst a mid-pace mediocre backing promotes disinterest. And 'You Will Always Be Mine' will give us the ballad we expect, slowly, with the cholesterol off the chart and the fondue flowing; that said, you'll not often find a better example.

This is a joy from more or less start to more or less finish. Hensley is suffused with class and in this genre surely can't put a step wrong. But that's more difficult than you might think. This makes as big as noise as those youngsters, but has class they might struggle to match. Here's to the next 50!

Steve Swift

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