Friday, April 13, 2012

PAUL SABU: "Bangkok Rules"

Rating: 7/10

Label: Z Records 2012

Review by Alan Holloway

I was a late convert to Paul Sabu, having managed to avoid most of his stuff apart from the album he did with Alexa back in 1989. I knew the name, knew his Dad played Mowgli years ago, and knew he was supposed to rock out with his cock out (not literally), but that was it. Last year, his new label Z Records threw out a best of compilation, “Call Of The Wild”, and I was hooked. When I had finished kicking myself for not having heard his stuff before, I resolved to keep track of his movements, which has led me to this, his first original album on Z.

“Bangkok Rules” isn’t going to shatter anyone’s preconceptions of Sabu, and stays true to the brand with big choruses, skyscraper riffs and the man himself’s throaty but wonderfully AOR vocals. Appropriately for a man whose Dad played jungle boys, when the album hits the highs the music makes you want to beat your chest like a gorilla and punch the air like it spilled your pint. The title track, followed by the album’s stand out track “Rock Don’t Run”, kick things off in fine style, and although there’s plenty of other impressive tracks (“Live Or Die Trying” has an awesome chorus) it’s these two that stick in the mind the most. It’s hard not to enjoy a song called “Rocked & Loaded”, especially when Sabu is singing it, and “Love’s Got A Mind Of Her Own” rolls along nicely after an intro that sounds amusingly like Sweet. So yes, there’s plenty of good stuff here for Sabu fans, but it’s not all plain sailing, as when the pace slows so does the enjoyment. Whilst “Read My Eyes” is a good, if not great, ballad, the slow grinder “Black Star” does nothing for me and the plodding “Code Blue” isn’t staying on my iPod, although I suspect it may have a better lease of life when played live.

I know that this album was written, at least in part, by Vince O’Regan, but have no idea about who else had a hand. I do know that there is a real gulf between upbeat, party rock tracks like “Rock Don’t Run” and the slow, grungy “Black Star”, whoever wrote them. Out of the eleven tracks, only three don’t do much to move me, with the rest more than making up for it with their energy and fun. I can’t see Sabu fans being disappointed with the overall product, but would have preferred a few more bouncy anthems.


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