By Ollie Stygall
Some bands just don’t fit together. They look, and usually sound as though they’ve answered an advert in the local music shop and they’re the only ones to reply so have no choice but to play together. The guitarist rarely has any social skills but this has given him time to memorise every solo from the Dream Theatre back catalogue, the bassist would rather be in a funk band, the drummer just likes to hit things and the singer sounds good in the shower but looks like a rabbit caught in headlights fronting a band at a gig. Then you have the bands that just work, the bands that look and sound like a gang. They think like a unit, dress like a unit, sound like a unit and present themselves like a unit. Crooked Little Sons are one of these bands. Hell, even if they couldn’t play a damn note they would still be a great rock and roll band because that’s what they’re meant to be.
And so it was on Friday August 30th 2019, in front of a modest crowd, Crooked Little Sons swaggered onto the small stage with all the confidence and style of a Glastonbury headliner and proceeded to deliver yet another in a long line of exemplary rock and roll performances. I know because I was there. They were fortunate in that the (virtual) tapes were rolling and the performance was captured for your continued listening pleasure.
The CLS live experience is a thing to behold. Each member of the band assumes the position and proceeds to deliver a battering that is part punk rock fury and part soul revue.
Stage left Marcus Osbourne dances in a haze of sweat beating Chuck Berry and Johnny Thunders riffs out of his bloodied Gretsch. Stage right Larry Collinson-Brown gets his head down like he’s about to enter a scrum and lays down the bottom end filth. At the back Lee Lane hammers with pinpoint precision and a rage that, although he’s a lovely bloke, leave you wondering if there may be a few motorway bridges being propped up by people who have upset him! Out front, the Ring Master himself, Josh Bessant leads the fray using every inch of the stage and anything else, including peoples’ shoulders with one purpose, to make sure each and every person leaves at the end of the night having had the best rock experience they can. He would make the stage at Wembley look small but would play on a postage stamp if that’s what it took.
Can any band really hope to capture the vibe of a live gig on a recording, particularly one as visual and reliant on crowd engagement as CLS. The answer will always be no, but in this case they don’t get far off. The recording is raw but gutsy but has clarity and punch and does go some way to recreating the sound of being stood in the room with the band. Their Hives, Bronx, Motorhead, MC5 amped up rush of tunes shines through with passion, skill and integrity and, if you turn it up, shut your eyes and imagine you can transport yourself in your mind to a sweaty, sticky floored venue somewhere with mayhem ensuing around you. Click your heels Dorothy and think of rock!!!
Crooked Little Sons are not the future sound of rock and roll, because rock and roll doesn’t need a future sound, the sounds of the last 60 years are perfectly good and when they’re chewed up and spat out the way these guys do there isn’t really anything better.