Leslie West: Unusual Suspects

The Great Fatsby invites some famous friends over.

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Well-loved former Mountain guitarist/ vocalist Leslie West is currently recovering from having a leg amputated, but this album of originals plus a slew of blues, pop and country standards is no old-pals mercy dash, despite the presence of devotees and chums such as Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde and Billy Gibbons.

West may be from Manhattan but his heart is in Mississippi, and the tone of Unusual Suspects is that of muddy Southern rock. Steve Lukather keeps One More Drink For The Road on tasteful ‘chug’ setting, while Slash slithers all over Mudflap Mama with appropriate menace. ZZ Top’s Gibbons sounds like the real star accomplice, though, and his co-write Standing On A Higher Ground also brings out the best in West.

It’s not all such fun. West’s version of The Beatles’ I Feel Fine is best saved for the stage, and deconstructing Willie Nelson’s The Party’s Over doesn’t work, regardless of the guests.

There’s also an in-joke song from the The Howard Stern Show that won’t translate in the UK. More relevant service resumes on the Willie Dixon blues of Third Degree and the album’s most obvious Mountain-moment, a simple, atmospheric take on To The Moon.

We wish the big man a speedy recuperation.

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.