Leslie West – Still climbing

leslie west - still climbingI suspect many of the people reading this review weren’t even born when Leslie West played one of the biggest shows of his career, when in 1969 he played the legendary Woodstock festival as part of the band Mountain.  So he’s been around for a long time, but he’s not someone who is content to sit back and retire even at the age of 68, and has been making and releasing music constantly since 1969, and hasn’t even been stopped by having most of his right leg amputated in 2011 due to complications with his Diabetes.  He’s worked with artists including Clutch, The Who, Joe Bonamassa and Ozzy Osbourne, but it’s not just in the blues and hard rock worlds that West is known – he’s been sampled by artists including Lana Del Rey, Jay-Z and Kanye West, which is pretty impressive.

For this latest album he has a few guests – Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti, Blues guitarist Jonny Lang, Blues guitarist Johnny Winter, Guitarist Dylan Rose, and Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider.

Brief comments on a few tracks

The album gets off to a great start with “Dyin’ Since The Day I Was Born”.  It’s got a really nice heavy guitar sound, and West’s vocals are powerful but with quite a Bluesy feel to them.  Mark Tremonti guests on guitar.

“Feeling good” features Dee Snider joining Leslie West on vocals.  It sounds great, and Dee Snider’s vocals surprised me, being quite different to what we’re used to from his work with Twisted Sister – they’re quite different here but sound fantastic, and with the two of them trading vocal lines this song works superbly.

“Tales of woe” is largely played on the acoustic guitar with a nice electric guitar solo.  It’s a song that reminds me of Deep Purple’s “Soldier of fortune”.  It’s a great song and a nice change of pace.  West’s vocals carry lots of emotion making it a powerful song despite the more gentle acoustic nature of the music.

“When a man loves a woman” is a cover of the Percy Sledge classic, and features Jonny Lang on guitar and also contributing vocally.  It’s a classic song, and this is a good cover of it, and while both West and Lang put in great vocal performances, I think Jonny Lang’s vocals work better with the song than those of Leslie West.

The album ends with “Rev Jones Time (somewhere over the rainbow)”, which is an instrumental track, and sounds like part of a guitar solo you might expect part way through a gig.  The tune is clearly recognisable and well played, but personally I don’t think that it adds anything to the album, and would be better left for live shows.

This is an excellent album.  Leslie West is still making great music and this album is packed with great songs, top quality guitar playing and great powerful vocals.  It’s got quite a raw feel to it – there’s no sense of it having been polished during production, this sounds exactly how I’d expect the songs to sound live in concert.  There’s lots of power and it sounds great at nice high volumes (sorry neighbours).  This album is highly recommended – go out and buy it.

“Still climbing” will be released on 28th October 2013

Track listing:

1. Dyin’ Since The Day I Was Born
2. Busted, Disgusted Or Dead
3. Fade Into You
4. Not Over You At All
5. Tales Of Woe
6. Feeling Good
7. Hatfield Or Mccoy
8. When A Man Loves A Woman
9. Long Red
10. Don’t Ever Let Me Go
11. Rev Jones Time (somewhere over the rainbow)

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.