Ready... set... go... here we have another new album from the reactivated onetime supergroup, originally formed in 1972 by bassist Andy Fraser of Free fame. Reforming in 2015, following Fraser's passing, for what have been described as some "tribute shows", they recorded and released a brand new studio album just last year, 'Killers of the Deep'. And here we have the follow-up. Prolific session guitarist Chris Spedding and vocalist Steve 'Snips' Parsons are present from the original Sharks incarnation, as is keys man Nick Judd who joined in 1973, drummer Gene Clark and bassist Tosh Ogawa.
I have to admit, this is my very first encounter with the Sharks' music. Before my time, I'm afraid. That, and the fact they're billed by their current label as "the legendary 70s supergroup that never took off", so I guess they would've fallen under the radar of many others, too, regardless of whether they were around or not. However, I'm more than familiar with Parsons, as I've long been a huge fan of his remarkable soundtrack for the undeniably kitsch and cheesy, yet hideously underrated, 'Howling II'. But the music on 'Ready Set Go' is a long way from his Babel shenanigans in said movie...
Sharks' motivation for 'Ready Set Go', as Parson describes, was to attempt "a fresh take on short, sharp and potent material", as he openly admits the old music "does smell a bit musty." While the songs here might very well freshen up their previous musical output, their compositional proclivities remain firmly rooted in a retro aesthetic. A little bluesy here and there, with some soulful infusions and discernible folk rock leanings. And a smattering of punk... kind of... at least to my ears.
Yet, for any genre affiliation songs might have, the overall feeling of the music transcends any stylistic judgements. On an emotional level, the music feels raw, pure, organic and free from any sense of pretence. This is all about the musicians gelling on their own terms and making the music they want to make. Sound compositions that have been reified by Parsons, Spedding, Judd and co. with an ardent sincerity. Spedding's many licks and leads are pure class, and Parson's voice is in very fine shape indeed.
Sharks are the real deal. And with only ephemeral bursts of activity in the early 70s and early to mid-90s, their twenty first century rejuvenation could be set to end soon? Who knows... let's just revel in the here and now. It'd be ironic if they were to call it a day soon, with their swansong being called 'Ready Set Go'!
READY SET GO
Review by Mark Holmes
29th June 2018
1) Big Chantelle
2) Who Chaser
3) Crash Party
4) It Will Stand
5) Mr Sloane
6) That Girl
7) Kink Mess
8) House of You
9) Doo Wop Nation
10) Come All Ye; 11) Darkwing and Honeybee
12) A Lovelike Eye; 13) Song of the Slaves
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the music feels raw, pure, organic and free from any sense of pretence. This is all about the musicians gelling on their own terms..."