Saturday 6 May 2017

BERNIE TORMÉ - "Dublin Cowboy", Released April 7 via Retrowrek Records - ALBUM REVIEW

BERNIE TORMÉ - "Dublin Cowboy"
Released April 7 via Retrowrek Records

The last time we spoke about Bernie we concluded that he was one of the few remaining guardians of the flame as far as rock'n'roll was concerned. A few months later he does confirm that he is one of the true defenders of the cause. Who else would undertake the release and independent production of a triple album in the current music industry context.

Forgive us, but with Rockchickenz being Dublin based, we are a bit biased when it comes to the title of the album "Dublin Cowboy", but we just love it!!! The triple combo is composed of an album studio, an exciting live take recorded in 2016 in South Shields (UK) and an acoustic session, a long overdue dream from Bernie.

I have never seen Bernie live on stage but I only hear good things about him. He has just completed a UK tour in April but today I am going to focus on the studio album if that's alright with you.

Produced by the man himself @ Barn Room Studios "Dublin Cowboy", the title, opens the ball with a typical Torme's stamp of decibels. The analogue sound adds (if necessary) a sense of authenticity to the track. I must say I am not mad about Hair of The Dog, the following song, but it is probably because I am a Kat person. :-)

Power of The Blues shows if need be that Bernie is more than just a hard rocking guitarist. He obviously excels on a hard rocking tempo but I really like his incursions on any spirally inspired bluesy tune. Then with no warning and when you expect it the least you bump into Little Brother, a pure gem, a bucket full of emotions, music and lyrics wise. This one really struck a chord with me and it's actually my favourite track. It is funny in a way because it serves as a prelude to a series of very strong songs that get this album taking off from that point onwards.

In the Groove is a killer tune, a stunning stone-ish like track and the following melody on the Way it Rolls rocks it's way to super solid composition kingdom. There is no time for a breather with the ambitious two part track Janus which is a nice introspective almost atmospheric musical journey.

Overall a guitar galore album, a production focusing on the songs rather than the sound. And the inimitable talent from Bernie makes this triple album a must buy for anybody who claims to have rock'n'roll in his/her veins.

Overall: A triple album really!!!
If I was to pick 3 only: One from each album: Studio is Little Brother, Acoustic will be All My Demons, Live has to be Turn Out The Lights
Live Test: We are planning to ask Bernie to play acoustic when we will video interview him at some stage. :-)

Reviewed by Pascal Derrien

RC: Good to talk to you again Bernie 😊 A triple album really? From where this mad idea came from?  

Total bone head stupidity really. I really wanted to do an acoustic album but I thought no-one is going to listen to that or buy it, its not what people would expect, so I decided to do a double, an electric studio album and an acoustic album hoping people would pay attention to that. Then this guy turned up with a live recording of a gig we had done in South Shields in January 2016, so it turned into a triple album…no plan, just the usual accidental chaos!  

RC: The production of an album is tricky enough let alone 3 how did you manage?  

With diffiiculty! I did the live album first, acoustic second, and then tore my hair out on the electric studio one. Its hard to have any kind of perspective really, you are just fire fighting and hoping for the best. by the time you finish you have no idea whats good or bad, just what you hate and what you hate slightly  less!    I try to take as much time out and ask extraneous people their opinions on tracks, but like everybody who does this you have to realise that a less than perfect mix for an outsider means they think it is a shit track, but when you translate their criticism and rejig it, it often turns into their favourite track! Its a minefield. I love doing it and hate doing it at the same time, but you have to be able to see the positive you can take from peoples negative views. The criticism is valid though they often don't know why they say it. Of course they are all wrong in any case!   

RC: Am I correct in saying your album crowdfunding was surprisingly quick? How do you explain this?  

Yes it was crazy quick, 8 hours 45 minutes! Luck of the Irish?  

RC: You have just completed a UK tour, what’s next and will we ever have the opportunity to see you live in Dublin?   I would hope so. Its an expensive place to get to with a band these days, and the way gigs work in Dublin is that unless you are Eric Clapton or Metallica or some other megastar no-one wants to pay! Or no-ne wants to pay me at anyrate!  Maybe its personal!   But I do end up in Dublin quite often, but not so recently with a band, because bands like to be paid!  

RC: There aren’t too many punk’n’blues dudes in the music biz do you think you suffer from schizophrenia 😊?  

Ha! No, I just like music, everything from folk jazz, rock, heavy onwards. I don't care what it is, if it moves me its magic. And everything musical right back to the dawn of music counts in that. Its human communication, and beyond words.    I have a fantastic album (3LPs) of medieval french music which I adore. And I was talking to a good mate today, Chas Watkins (who engineered and produced the Gillan albums) about the afro-celt sound system which he had just bought, one of my all time favourite albums, I couldn't say I was into anything in particular. Just human, forget the polished bland stuff though. Rough as it comes! Typical hippie!  

RC: My favourite song of the album is Little Brother, would it be OK to share the story behind the lyrics?  

Thats difficult to talk about, but I'm glad you like it.    The inspiration was initially because my friend Paul Samson died. I met Paul a few months after moving to London in '74. Paul was a great guitarist, more lyrical and traditional than me, a few years younger than me, and we were sort of competitors and maybe rivals who more than sometimes slagged each other off.    Paul, as anyone who knew him, could be a right  C.U.N.T. sometimes,  but we always respected each other, hugely. It was a relationship based on respect and occasional mutual dislike as well as on love! I was never as adept with put-downs as Paul, so therefore we loved mostly at a distance!  

I was devastated when he got cancer and we all found out it was terminal: I saw him quite a few times when he was very ill, and he was just such a strong brave and funny guy who took it all in his stride.  Its a strange thing to say but he was always bigger than his illness. When he died I had this dream about him lying asleep in the sun. Thats all I can say about the song really.   I couldn't say the song is about anything else, songs are songs, what they mean to me is not what they would mean to someone else, they have their own life. For me it was inspired by Paul, his death, and that dream. I couldn't play it live, I'd cry. He'd also be so pissed off I called him little brother!  Can't imagine what he'd call me!  

RC: What’s your favourite song on Dublin Cowboy and why?  

Probably 'Shine' because it was breaking new ground for me. I like a lot of them though, and thats unusual!  

RC: I am no musician but I think some of our readers are, what’s your standard equipment on the road

Fender Strat into a russian big muff, into a boss noise gate into a bypass pedal (so I can go clean of both pedals) into a 100watt marshall vintage modern into a 4X12 with 4 celestion vintage 30's. Not at all complex.  

RC: Finally what is the question you would have liked me to ask you and I did not ?  

Bernie, can I buy you a pint?

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