Posted on August 27th, 2015 (1:00 pm) by Addison Herron-Wheeler

Rockabilly group Barrence Whitfield and the Savages are famous for their R&B vocalist, Barrence Whitfield, who first struck out for a career on his own, and then became famous as vocalist for the Savages in the '80s and '90s. The group has released over a dozen records in their time as a band, and each one is a unique take on the very roots of rock n' roll. The Savages are fun because they sound like The Stooges or even earlier rock n' roll like Little Richard. At the same time, there are moments where their music flits into the sort of annoying, predictable mainstream pop and sounds a little too friendly. On this latest record they slip a bit further toward the radio hit side of things, but still manage to maintain their integrity with some solid songs.

Their latest album, Under the Savage Sky, is pretty much what a fan or follower would expect from the group. The cover artwork (Hitchcock, anyone?) is done in the traditional style they go for. The first song, "Willow," is classic Savages, straightforward, reeling rock n’ roll, but the next track, "I’m a Full Grown Man," is a little goofy and radio-friendly, with a refrain that almost borders on pop country.

The rest of the record is a similar intermixing of strong songs and tracks that sound more like filler and don’t hold their own. "The Claw" and "Rock n' Roll Baby" are fun, instant rockabilly hits, with loud and heavy yet classic guitar leads and belted vocals. "Adjunct Street" has a very ska-feeling vibe, and seems a little odd with the flow of the record. Similarly, "Angry Hands" and "Bad News Perfume" are a little sappy and poppy, ending the record on a somewhat weak note.

Two of the best things about this album are the guitar work - heavy, chugging, and impressive - Whitfield's amazing and famous vocals, which soar above the rest of the record and really drive things forward. This album is catchy and fun, and it carries on the Savage's tradition in a strong way. These tracks will stick in your head, and you have to be inhuman not to tap your feet.

However, this isn't a completely relevant release for 2015. To really strike home, it seems that this band should be tapping more into their roots and embracing the hipster appeal of classic rock n’ roll, Instead, The Savages seems to be leaning more towards the radio-friendly side of things, and not unleashing the full potential of what the group can do. Perhaps they need a better publicist to swerve these older dudes more in the direction of what will sell with a younger crowd.

This is an essential album if you are a Savages fan and follow their discography, and it won’t disappoint. However, if this is your introduction for the group, it might be better to start with a more classic album first.

Track List:

  1. Willow
  2. I'm a Full Grown Man
  3. The Claw
  4. Rock 'n' Roll Baby
  5. Adjunct Street
  6. Angry Hands
  7. Bad News Perfume
Under the Savage Sky
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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