Gentlemans Pistols is a band that I’ve been lucky enough to see live a few times, and like each album release, each time was fantastic, and each time also accompanied by a line up change, most famously bringing on board axe man extraordinary Bill Steer; if you don’t know who he is, then I think Ave Noctum is not the site you’re looking for! Then, worryingly, all went rather quiet, and there were more than a few rumours that the band was no more. Gladly, those rumours were unfounded, and with a rejuvenated line up, now with gigantic bass beast and professional Yorkshireman Robert ‘Conan’ Threapleton (Blind Haze and ex-Asomvel) swinging his flares alongside Stuart Dobbins in the rhythm section, Gentlemans Pistols have returned all guns blazing with ‘Hustlers Row.’
Racing out of the blocks with ‘The Searcher’, the band continue to pay homage to preceding generations of UK hard rock heroes, the track bringing to life the early fire and fury of The Who in the vocal delivery, structure, bass flourishes and drum battery, sounds that manage to make their presence felt despite having to compete with the guitar excellence of the said Mr Steer. ‘Devil’s Advocate on Call’ opens with Thin Lizzy like guitar harmonies, and then develops a rocky sound that combined with quirky lyrics that could have come from the pen of the great Ray Davies giving the song a feeling that was equally classic and timeless. This light tone is kicked to one side by the cowboy booted foot of ”Time Wasters’, a swaggering slice of electric blues-rock that gives vent to some full on guitar hero theatrics so reminiscent of the rock that used to dominate The Old Grey Whistle Test in the seventies, and whilst the number clocks in at a near six minutes on album, I’ve no doubt, and every hope, that live it will be developed into a sprawling beast of a number where each member will be able to get their rock on, the solos crying out to be lengthened as boots mount the stage monitors and are driven forward by a chugging bass and drum.
After the full throttle rock of the opening numbers, the pace slows down with ‘Stress and Confusion’, a track that contrary to the title is a blissfully relaxing blues ballad, reminiscent of Peter Green at his most soulful, vocalist and guitarist James Atkinson wringing heartfelt emotion from every note, all before the band step on the gas and close the track with one of the albums stand out guitar solos. Each and every track on ‘Hustler’s Row’ is a perfectly crafted slice of rock, from the blues creep of ‘Lady Teaser’ to the hard rock stomp of ‘Dazzle Drizzler’ to the multi-faceted album closer, title track ‘Hustler’s Row’, a number that like a latter day ‘Hotel California’ goes from gentle acoustic strumming and harmonies to a wall of blasting guitars and back down again, a more than suitably epic finish to an epically good album.
There has been a four year plus gap since Gentlemans Pistols released their last album ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, and several changes in personnel. However, the band have come back stronger than ever, and sounding like a single solid unit. The band must have gelled together over a combined love and respect for classic rock to create such a stunning album, no one element being over dominant, a real danger with so many strong musicians together in one place. I can only hope that this is now the winning formula, and look forward to hearing this album performed live.