Label: TSM/SLW 2011
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
How could you possible go wrong with a moniker such as TWO WHEEL EEL? Excellent! I noticed they have a British vocalist (Jon Dunmore) but they're actually from New Jersey, U.S. of A and the influences are definitely both foreign and homegrown and showing on their sleeves. It's the early to mid seventies rock sound throughout the record and very much in the style of blue collar aka working class heroes of the past.
Guitarist and main 'eel' Johnny Renken started playing at seven years old. He grew up touring the tri-state area club and college circuit for a few years. With the intense desire to have his own original band, Johnny started a band called "The Tilt" later to become "Second Coming." Under the production and management of Ron Johnsen who had worked with Kiss, Billy Squire, Carol King, The Troggs and other great artists in the early days. Unfortunately without major label support, the group soldiered on in search of new vocalist front man. They started over again with the same great rhythm section, Allen Paul on bass and Tony Rock on drums. When Johnny and Allen went to a Mount Holly NJ studio to record the clsoing track on this very CD, "Waiting for You" they met British vocalist Jon Dunmore and the beginning of Two Wheel Eel had been born.
Opener, "Hey Annie", hardrocking blues, "The Ecology Song" a nice mixture of early UFO and The Who. "Runaway (Hitching In L.A.)" revokes the Beatles (Lennon) and more so the 'all the young dudes' formula and old rock of Mott The Hoople and obviously David Bowie as he wrote the 'dude' song after all. "Heaven and Hell" speak of John Miles and John Lennon influences but more importantly pure AOR as this power ballad could almost have been the work of early cult acts such as The Baby's. But then again, UFO did these sort of ballads already on the 'Lights Out' album. "Melody", another sappy ballad but now like a 50/50 mix of Rod Stewart and more so of the drama in the vein of Smokie. "Red Light", yet another sappy but actully quite nice tune. Once again a tad too much of the 70s 'Smokie' and John Cougar and not enough of the 'Classic Rock', but nevertheless nice... in a harmless sort of way. "We're All The Same" reeks of The Hollies, The Who, and every other U.K. act while "Head For Home" rocks in the style of UFO lite.
Dunmore is a fine 'old school' rauchy U.K. vocalist and you could almost imagine him upfront with the likes of The Hollies (70s era), Smokie, UFO, or why not Strange Fruit? The latter act obviously from the 'Still Crazy' film and not a proper band (very UFO inspired music anyhow). Definitely worth checking out if you're into the seventies sound and production. Nicely done!