Jason and the Scorchers - Halcyon Times
Back from the wilderness, yellow eyed and as hungry as the wolf Jason & The Scorchers hurl themselves into this their first album for well over a decade. Opening track ‘Moonshine Guy’ takes us back to a time long forgotten when bands like JATS, Georgia Satellites and their ilk could be heard on national radio in the UK. You may scoff but back in the mid eighties U2’s quest to discover what’s become defined as ‘Americana’, resulting in the sprawling yet oddly wonderful Rattle & Hum, opened up the nation’s consciousness to country rock and hillbilly music and it was possible to reference Little Feat in polite company.
Those days are long gone but the vagaries of British fashion sense don’t amount to a hill of beans in Tennessee, not to a ‘Moonshine Guy’ who Loves the Stones, hates the Doors and thinks the Beatles sing for Girls. They know they’re out of step and they don’t care, setting themselves up as Moonshine Guys in a six pack world. Tracks like ‘Beat on The Mountain’ and ‘Mother of Greed’ are the real keys to the heart of this band and betray a fierce working class pride which they share with more mainstream success stories like The Boss and Steve Earl. Indeed ‘Land of the Free’ with its mandolin and stomping heartbeat neatly recalls Copperhead Road, but it is ‘Mother of Greed’ which has particular resonance for this writer as it tells the tale of a working man struggling to survive in depression hit Wales who heads out for the land of opportunity. It may be a history lesson but it has painful resonance today as another factory shuts its doors in the Valleys.
It’s not all social commentary though and a fair chunk of the album, most notable ‘Getting’ Nowhere Fast’, is a rip roaring, Wild Turkey fuelled celebration of nothing more than the fact that they’re still here and able to strap on those ravenous guitars. This is a return to form, an album by the working man, for the working man; raise a brewskie to them and remember to have a good time, all the time.