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Vambo – Vambo review

Label: Right Track Distribution

Genre: Classic Rock

Release Date: October 25 2019

Track Listing:

1. Now You See Me
2. Why Why Why [Explicit]
3. Cry Woman
4. We’re Not the Same
5. Dancing with the Devil
6. World of Misery
7. Down Litttle Mama [Explicit]
8. Running in Circles
9. Camouflage
10. Vambo Roolz
11. Fast Car

Line Up:

Jack Stiles (vocals),
Pete Lance (guitar),
James Scott (bass),
Steve Price (drums)

There are times when you wish some of your favourite bands of yesteryear were at least 25 years younger and capable of still releasing albums like the ones that made them huge in the first place. You also look back on those eras and other ‘non rock’ acts that were around at the time and convince yourself that even pop music was better back then. Everybody has their own era, everyone feels like there era was best and thankfully there are bands like Vambo who feel the same way and blend the best of rock back then with the best of pop and come up with the sort of music that Boston, Foreigner, Survivor and Stevie Wonder would all be happy to attach their name to. Yes, I said Stevie Wonder. Back in the 70s and early 80s songs like More Than A Feeling sat alongside classics like Higher Ground. We cared less about how the bands looked and more about the music because the music is timeless whereas the flares and 8 inch collars… well… less said really.

Vambo have been doing the rounds of late, playing the festival slots, support slots when they can get them, honing their craft and the band have yet (given the number of times I’ve seen them) to put on a bad show. They mix rock and soul with a healthy slice of 70s groove, the sort that could easily find its way onto the soundtrack of a cheesy cop movie from the era. The sort of movie that the person that adorns the cover of the album could easily be found in.

With that viewpoint in mind, it’s amazing just how easily the album then opens up to you. Track after track flows like liquid gold, the substance that could have been sold in dark alleyways for those looking for increased pleasure in their lovemaking… come on, you’ve all tried it right.. right?? (cough!)

If we look at bands of the 80s and 90s that added an extra slice of Funk and Psychedelia to their music, as the album progresses we also get whiffs of Electric Boys, Dan Reed Network and maybe a smidgen of Enuff Z’Nuff.

The trick with the music and this album in particular is that it really is all about the songs. It might sound logical but often we find bands seek to issue ‘an album’ to their fans whereas Vambo have set out to deliver 11 singles and have collated them on a single disc for our enjoyment. Every track opens with a riff that makes the hips sway, the head bob and the mind go off to a place where a band like this would be headlining arenas with ease.

Cry Woman, We’re Not The Same, Dancing With The Devil, all wonderfully unique yet familiar enough to lodge deeply in the brain. The latter a stunning power ballad with some wonderful piano work to enhance the sound. It’s a track that reminds me of classic ICON circa Night of The Crime and actually caused me to go and dig that album out for a slab of reminiscing. Don’t be fooled that this is a retro only album, it isn’t. It simply does enough to remind us just what rock music has given to us in the past and then firmly places a modern stamp all over it to bring it charging into the 21st Century.

A chat with the boys is due at some point, not to necessarily focus on the music but to understand what is in their (obviously extensive) record collections. Both guitarist Pete Lance and vocalist Jack Stiles have managed to craft that perfect combo that all classic bands over the decades have produced. This is clearly not just one person’s vision and in Vambo, the band all feel like necessary cogs in the wheel.

Both Down Little Mama and Camoflage thunder through the speakers thanks to the rhythm section Steve Price and Jack Scott. Imagine as well that, if Tom Morello brought something new to guitar playing with his time in RaTM and Audioslave, then Lance takes that inspiration and layers on his own unique style over these tracks as well. Clearly inspired by some of the best, Lance is definitely one to keep an eye on in future.

The album finishes on a firm fan favourite and band anthem Vambo Roolz and Fast Car. The former is one of those ear worms that works so well live and has everyone swaying along in a ‘liquid gold’ induced haze. The guitar work on the latter makes us head onto the race track and instead of finishing on a slow number, we go out with an almighty bang.

Classic rock bands take note, this is how you deliver a debut. Focus on the songs, make them good then make them better. Give us something to remember. Everyone loves a tuuuuune … this album contains 11 of them!

Score 8/10

Reviewed by: Adrian Hextall

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