For me, the highlight of Firefest 8 (2011) was without a doubt Coney Hatch, I had resigned myself to never seeing this band live, however the people behind Firefest have an unnerving knack of pulling rabbits out of hats, so this was very much a magic moment for me, and no doubt the sell-out crowd felt the same, when they hit the stage to a thunderous reception. Having only released three albums all back in the 80’s, the self-titled ‘Coney Hatch’, ‘Outta Hand’ and ‘Friction’, the band disbanded, with various members joining other bands, or releasing solo records. Most notably singer and guitarist Carl Dixon sang with April Wine and The Guess Who. In April, 2008 Carl Dixon was very seriously injured in a car accident in Australia, Dixon’s wife asked his former band-mates to speak to Carl while he was in a coma, with fellow Coney Hatch singer and bassist Andy Curran promising his friend that they still had much more rocking to do under the name Coney Hatch. Amazingly, after recovering, Dixon remembered those words, and staying true to Curran’s promise, himself, Dixon and lead guitarist Steve Shelski buried the hatchet with original drummer Dave Ketchum, who had left the band after the Outta Hand album.
On August 5, 2010 the original Coney Hatch line up including the now recovered Carl Dixon played a reunion show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. It was the first performance from the original line up since 1993.
They followed this up a little over a year later when they played the Firefest Festival in Nottingham, England.
So fast forward to the present day, and we finally get another Coney Hatch record.
The opening track ‘Blown Away’ does just that, the catchy riff and hooks really drive the track along, this is classic Coney Hatch.
“Boys Club” is next up, and this is even better, harking back to the sound of the first album, this is great, two tracks in and these are strong, let’s just hope the rest of the album stacks up,….and it does.
As ever, Dixon and Curran share lead vocals across the album, which creates an interesting mix, and adds another level to the Coney Hatch sound.
“Down And Dirty” is a quick, fast rocker, while “Connected” has a similar tempo and feel as ‘Monkey Bars’, the music has a familiarity to it that I welcome back like an old friend.
“Marseilles” has the type of riff Angus Young has been writing for years, but this is so much better while “Keep Driving” is my favourite track on here, the album finishes with ‘Holding On’ a great rambling melodic rock track.
Steve Shelski deserves a special mention, his lead playing on Four is probably his strongest ever, however taken as a unit, the band all raise their game, making this the strongest Coney Hatch release to date, just beating ‘Friction’.
We are treated to an album that wouldn’t feel out-of-place after ‘Outta Hand’, but before Friction; the production is not overdone, with the songs sounding rawer, more energetic, yet still capturing the vintage Coney Hatch sound. Like most great wines, Coney Hatch has matured with age.
1. Blown Away
2. Boys Club
3. Down And Dirty
4. Do It Again
7. We Want More
8. The Devil You Know
10. Keep Driving
11. Holding On