Label: Frontiers 2011
Review by Alan Holloway
Some uncharitable chap commented on a recent video from this album that John Waite looks “worn out and sick and tired of everything”, which is a harsh thing to throw at a 58 year old rock star. To be honest, he could look like a Venusian sphincter beast for all I care, as long as he can still sing like John Waite, and boy can he still do that. “Rough & Tumble” is his tenth solo album in 28 years, and it’s nice to have the old boy back.
From the opening title track it’s obvious that John Waite hasn’t lost any of his talent vocally, and it’s a snappy track that falls nicely between the two stools that are his previous solo work and the stellar stuff he did with Bad English. Crunchy and catchy, it tells you that this isn’t going to be a wet blanket of an album, and for that I thank Beelzebub and all his little satanic minions. The style of the album is still firmly lodged in the AOR camp, but when there’s a bit more energy released, such as on the excellent “Sweet Rhode Island Red”, it really jumps. Obviously there’s going to be a few soppy songs, but Waite’s voice was built to make soppy songs bearable, and he breathes life into stuff like “Skyward” and the laid back “Love’s Going Out Of Style”. Overall the album is more low key than rocking with it’s socks off, but the tracks are very well written and The Voice is well catered for.
There’s a couple of bonus tracks on my copy, with the energetic “Mr Wonderful” complimented by the mournful “Hanging Tree”, but I don’t know if they’re Europe exclusive or what. Suffice to say they are the icing on the cake of what was already a very good 10 track album. “Rough & Tumble” isn’t up there with the Bad English debut, mostly because it lacks the raw power of that disc, but it’s still a fine piece of work that should paint happy faces on fans of any era of Waite’s work.