Bizarrely, having finished my chores this morning, just before sitting down to type I checked my assorted social media (okay, I have just one, Facebook; I get too confused by all the assorted platforms available) and the computer was kind enough to remind me that the last Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell CD had popped through my letterbox three years ago to the day. Well, it definitely didn’t seem that long, having had all their rather excellent albums on regular rotation, but damn it’s good to have a new album in the form of ‘Very Uncertain Times’.
From the off with title track ‘Very Uncertain Times’ the tried and true Shovell formula swaggers out of the speakers, a cocksure combination of gruff vocals, howling guitar, incendiary bass and thunderous drums, albeit the wielder of the sticks is now Serra Petale, a long time live presence with the band. This is what the fans want, and the band delivers in spades, uncompromising hard rock played without tricks and gimmicks, just one hundred percent heart. More timeless goodness abounds in ‘Ten Years Later’, and frankly it could have been recorded any time in the last fifty years, steeped as it is in the legacy of such legendary power trios as The Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream at their most raw, all before they give the listener’s ears ‘The Third Degree’. If that wasn’t good enough, the band go full on early Motörhead with the opening of ‘Mr Freedom’, a number that slows down into a dirty blues crawl halfway through before stamping a cowboy boot back on the accelerator; I can only imagine that Johnny Gorillar had to raise the mike stand on high to obtain that full on Lemmy growl.
Not everything is an all out sprint, with ‘Iceberg’ having a mellow psychedelic vibe in the fuzzy guitars and harmonized vocals, but the energy that underpins their sound and live shows could not be contained for long, and soon their primal need to rock out piles to the front with a blazing Gorillar solo, a display of dirty virtuosity matched note for note and beat for beat by the flying bass of Louis Comfort-Wiggett and drums of Ms Petale. Damn me, but I sure hope that this is a track destined to be a cornerstone of their live set, albeit I fear for the future resilience of my neck bones if it does.
Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell then travels to ‘Blackworth Quarry’, a mythical place from which I can only assume they mine their own special brand of heavy rock, a number followed fast furiously by ‘Biscuits For Victor’, biscuits that I can only assume are smothered in cream and butter in order to, as their last album predicted, ‘Keep It Greasy’. This thunderstorm of music is rounded off by ‘No Man’s Land’, a track that despite being a subject that could be a complete downer, is instead a song to lift the spirits and have drinks spilt as their owners fists punch the air along to the infectious riffage.
In the ‘Very Uncertain Times’ that we live in, where every news bulletin is nothing but a litany of doom and gloom that takes me back to my own youth, albeit the man made apocalypse then was expected to be a mushroom cloud rather than a smog of industrial waste and greed, Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell have chosen to deliver a slice of good times rock to lift the spirits and remind all who listen that there are good things in the world worth living for; for that, I thank them.