Though a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd for the past 20 years, Blackfoot’s de facto leader Rickey Medlocke has broken new ground by reforming the band as a brand while taking a back seat as songwriter and producer. Given that two other survivors of the quartet that made Strikes, Tomcattin’ and Marauder must now relive their past under a new name, it’s a controversial move.
But once you accept that the 2016 Blackfoot’s Tim Rossi doesn’t sing like Medlocke, all other trademarks are present and just about correct. The title track, Call Of A Hero and the stomping cowbell boogie of Whiskey Train are archetypal Blackfoot. There’s also a hell-for-leather opener and a classic cover (CSNY’s Ohio – albeit tarnished by resurrecting Sweet Home Alabama’s dig at the song’s author, Neil Young, in an inappropriate context). There’s even a Highway Song-style slow-builder (Take Me Home – though it’s not a patch on the original).
Finally, echoing guest appearances on turn-of-the-80s Blackfoot albums made by his grandaddy Shorty, Rickey plays slide on Love This Town. Contrived? Yes. Cynical? Maybe. But to this fan of the original band, it pretty much works.