When released a few weeks back the single The Spinning of the Wheel from Charlie Lankester & The Mojo Killers, not only lit up the passions with its energetic and infectious sounds but fired up expectations and anticipation for the following album, Song In A Minor Key. The song suggested it could be something rather good but the reality is it just might be a modern blues/rock n roll classic.
The career of Australian singer / songwriter / pianist Charlie Lankester to date has been a full and impressive one. From dropping out of medical in the late seventies, he spent four years in The Last Chance Café who in their time supported the likes of Fats Domino, BB King, JJ Cale, AC / DC, Billy Joel and Status Quo. Upon the demise of the band he moved to Europe where as well as training and working as an osteopath he spent twenty years playing keyboards for the likes of Linda Gail Lewis, Osibisa, Otis Grand, The Boogie Band and the John Warwick All Stars. His yearning to fulfil a lifelong ambition to write and record his own solo album grew over time too and eventually he took time out to create his own collection of blues/rock songs which became Song In A Minor Key.
Things took a setback when on the eve of mixing the final track for the album in December of last year; Lankester was diagnosed with incurable liver cancer and told he had just months to live. His response was in his own words, “I was feeling so good about the album that when the doctor told me I had only months to live I just laughed and said ‘No mate, that’s not gonna happen. I’ve got an album to release.” Since then things have through determination and the exploration of the very best alternative medical advice, seen his tumour having been reduced by fifty per cent thanks to dedicated diets and supplements for cancer as well as several courses of intravenous doses of high intensity vitamin C. Alongside all of that he continued to finish one of the best rock albums of the year in Song In A Minor Key, a release which hits all the right notes outside and within.
Pulling together the talents of guitarists Derek ‘Del’ Mandel and Mark Hawkins, bassist (stand up and electric) Dave Cuthbert, and drummer Daniel Howard, as well as a brass section of Paul Silver, Gain Broom and Rich Mills to become the Mojo Killers, Lankester found the strongest way to bring great songs into glorious realisation. Immediately the album opens with the striking Greed, the ear, senses, and imagination are hooked. Like a sonic bullfighter, the song steps into the light with drama and confidence through piano, keys, and a crescendo of horns. With a slightly raw edge to the vocals of Lankester to add to the intense air, the track romps with attitude and grandeur whilst the Latin essences seeping through the heart of the song only adds to the depth of the passion.
The smoky blues barroom heat of Drinking My Blues Away follows next to offer a mesmeric and smouldering piece of shadowed melodrama. With a darker growl to the vocals and guitar play which leaves traces on the air like sparklers in the night sky, the song is an emotively soaked stroll to thrill in every aspect.
The album is wonderfully varied, from the sizzling blues driven Brixton Road and the sultry jazz breathing Out There to the electrified southern rock toned In My Time and the soulful title track, the release is a diverse and absorbing wealth of inventive songwriting and play. It is an album where everything is impressive in stature and instinctive passion though there are loftier highlights which grab the glory
The aforementioned single The Spinning Of The Wheel is an irresistible well crafted piece of rock swagger and brass delight which is merciless with its mesmeric charms. The song is a heart stealer but even its majestic might is rivalled and surpassed. The garage siphoned rock n roller The Real, Real Gone is a shadowed equal with its darkened corners and fiery blues veins but the pure excellence of Rio Grande and Closed Door steal top honours. The first is an insatiable rockabilly hearted stomp with a blues piano lighting its corners and a teasing energy igniting primal urges within limbs and senses of its recipient. It is easily the best song on the album though seriously challenged by the final track on the album, Closed Door. Written by drummer Howard, it is a prog noir exploration of inciteful bass and melodic conjuring. Sounding like a mix of Hugh Cornwall, Miles Davis, and King Crimson, or not, the track that distinctive yet unique, it is a stunning and unexpected but wholly agreeable finish to a great album.
We started with saying Song In A Minor Key might be a classic, but there is no might about it, Charlie Lankester & The Mojo Killers have created an album which will be acclaimed for decades.
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