Damon Johnson - Release
Review By Baz Howes
Well, it's been a decade in the making. Has it been worth the wait I hear you ask? I suppose it depends on what you were expecting.or indeed wanting.
If that was something along the lines of Brother Cane, Slave To The System, Motorbelly, or even, dare I add, Alice Cooper, then you are wide of the mark my fellow Sickies. So it must sound like Whiskey Falls then ? well not really, at least this guest reviewer doesn't think so.
OK, there is a Whiskey Falls song on here, but that was a case of WF taking a Damon song, and not Damon taking a WF song if you know what I mean. If you have heard Damon's last solo album, Dust, (2000) then I think you will have some idea what this album is all about. Both are a collection of songs which to me sound very personal to Damon, and indeed have been written by him, for him, and if the public like them too, then it’s a bonus. Isn’t that the way it should be?
OK, on to the music, and the album opens with a stunner,' Release ( Hard Rain Comin' ). “Angels with addictions reaching out their hands to him, Seven deadly sins were all he's handing out to them, A hard rains gonna come real soon, It always comes when you live your life in a spoon”. A real simple song with some great lyrics and vocals, one of the highlights of the album..
'Everyday' written by Damon and John Shanks was originally recorded by Stevie Nicks for an album back in 2002 I believe, but what comparison her version has to this I can't say. Once again a simple melodic piece of guitar playing. If someone from a boy band got hold of this it would make Damon a fortune. Hope that hasn't put you off.
For me the best song on the album is the last, 'Where I'm From', not written by Damon, sorry Damon, and sang by his daughter Sarah, what a voice that girl has, and is a homage to the great state of Alabama, which seems fitting since Damon is in the process of leaving there.. She says she's never far away from the Alabama frame of mine.. Are any of us ? Certainly not this guy.
Among the other highlights include 'Pontiac' where we learn of his first love, I think he means the girl, not the car, 'Hard Act To Follow' which is an acoustic version of a song from the first BC album and ' Better Days Will Come At Last ' where the vocals are shared by Sarah.
'Just Feel Better' was covered by Santana and Steve Tyler, and I don't have to tell you about 'Generation Landslide' except to say it's not one of my favourites on the album. I suppose to cover a classic like that is going to divide opinion.
'Dayton, Ohio', 'Leave It All Behind' , and Jolene ( written by Ray LaMontage ) don't really cut it for me, but that’s not to say they won't work for someone else, just my humble opinion. Damon's guitar playing sounds so simple, yet so right for this type of music, and his mellow, sometimes soulful vocals are a treat, this boy can really sing , that’s for sure.
I'm not gunna bullshit you and say this album is the best thing since sliced bread, but it's a nice door stop to toast and smother with butter and strawberry jam. One thing that strikes me about this album, and about Damon in general, and I may be way off the mark here, is that i'm sure he would get as much pleasure playing these songs to family and friends, sat on a porch in Monroeville, Alabama, as he would be playing to 500 punters in a a local bar in Nashville, or 5000 anywhere else in the world. You see, with Damon, it’s playing the music that matters.
Do I recommend it? Is the pope Catholic? Does Jaded like cider? Does Sparky like sex? As Alice Cooper fans , this album may be out of your comfort zone, but hey, Damon is one of us, give it a try, he deserves that much.