Pretty much since 5 minutes after a bunch of clean-cut Liverpudlians made rock safe for TV in 1963, folks have been periodically declaring “real rock n roll” dead. And while a credible argument could be made that the moment represented the first death of “real rock n roll,” what's really true is that every generation has their rebirth and death of “real rock n roll.” That dangerous but soulful riffy shit that's a little rough around the edges, makes no apologies, and calls back to the roots. But each time it comes back, it adds something new. In the 70's punk added a little bit of glam fashion and anarchist principles to the old formula. In the 90's grunge added just a hint of metal. Here we are in the 2010's (is there a name for this decade yet? The tens?) and the new flavor for “real rock n roll” is soul. You don't need to look any further than Vintage Trouble's debut record “The Bomb Shelter Sessions” to know it's true.
The record stands equally on the shoulders of Otis Redding and Chuck Berry. Opening track “Blues Hand Me Down” shows the band with a clear sense of their place in music history (though with a name like Vintage Trouble, was that ever in question?). Rock has always been blues' rebellious son, so when singer Ty Taylor sings “Papa was a blues man” he's not just talking about himself, but rock n roll itself. You could call it meta-rock, but let's be honest, since the beginning the best rock songs were about rock n roll. The riffs (courtesy of guitarist Nalle Colt) are hot throughout. “Nancy Lee,” whose video pretty well sums up the band's modern-vintage hybrid by trying to recapture the feel of a home video on iPhone 4s, simmers beneath the band's tight but open grooves.
Try not dancing to this. Just try it. I didn't think so.
Though the band's faster songs are the highlights of the record, that's only because they're epically badass. Vintage Trouble knows their way around a more traditional soul number as on “Nobody Told Me” and the 8 minute closing track “Run Outta You.” As a bonus, check out their cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The band goes full-on Joe Cocker at Woodstock. It's always risky business covering a song with the same arrangement as one of those “great recordings in rock history” but Vintage Trouble stares Joe Cocker in the face and owns the song. Tragically, it's not on the record, but damn. Just damn.
You can pick up “The Bomb Shelter Sessions” on iTunes. And if you can, catch them on tour opening for (what's left of) The Who.