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The Bottle Rockets: South Broadway Athletic Club

Still crowd-rousing, two decades on.

St Louis alt. rockers the Bottle Rockets have been championing the blue-collar cause for over two decades and show no signs of losing their zest. Indeed, South Broadway Athletic Club, their first album of new material in five years, has a revivalist feel.

They may not rock with the intensity they did 20 years ago but they still know how to rouse a crowd and singer Brian Henneman’s eye for detail has got sharper. So the simple pleasures of making your lover smile (Big Lotsa Love) or walking your dog (Dog) hint at something deeper. And Big Fat Nuthin’ makes chillin’ sound exhausting.

His Tom Petty-tinged voice and bursts of Rickenbacker guitar reinforce the familiar sound. Unfortunately he doesn’t always move with the times. The strongest song, Building Chryslers, is about a lazy slacker on the assembly line. Not too many of them around now in what remains of the American car industry.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.