Vintage Trouble: 1 Hopeful Rd

The Los Angeles soul-rock masters deliver smoothly on their second album.

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Amy Winehouse nailed it with Back To Black. Joss Stone warbled through the 00s in its name. Lately, names like George Ezra and Sam Smith have been lobbed against it. Soul has been reimagined by a raft of 21st-century faces.

Vintage Trouble operate at the classier end, celebrating America’s rich musical history – from the roots of blues, through 50s/60s rock’n’roll, soul and R&B – and peppering it with the drive of the Rolling Stones.

Their 2011 debut The Bomb Shelter Sessions made a strong opening case. As much a soul record as it was a rock one, it secured favour with a very ‘rock’ audience – not to mention a decidedly A-list one, as they targeted the UK before turning to the US. The Rolling Stones took them on tour in the States, they supported The Who in Europe, ditto Brian May. Stadium shows with Bon Jovi ensued…

Most recently they opened for AC/DC on a string of mega dates – the dream gig for almost any rock band, snapped up by a group fronted by Ty Taylor, a man who rivals James Brown for showmanship.

Now signed to Blue Note – ostensibly a jazz label – they’ve retained their smooth, retro heart for 1 Hopeful Road. Yes, they’ve made a lot of high-octane rock friends in the last four years, but the dominant force here is old-school soul. Not in a dozy way, though – far from it. These songs ooze passionate vim and vigour, whether they be uptempo hip-shakers or heart-aching ballads. We half wonder if we’ve stumbled into a Mississippi juke joint as the bluesy shake, rattle and slide of Run Like The River starts us off, before From My Arms turns down to sultry, bedroom-eyes R&B.

Indeed, the slowies here may be endearingly familiar, in their sweet, old-fashioned crooning, but at their peak they’re really lovely. Beautiful soul-blues guitar and longing vocals from Taylor sing through the gorgeous My Heart Won’t Fall Again, and If You Loved Me blends Otis Redding sugar with a contemporary, pensive turn.

On the bouncier end, Taylor’s soul man panache meets Dixie-harmonised stomp’n’roll in Angel City, California; Another Baby is Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’-meets-The Who, dancing with Wilson Pickett; and Strike Your Light could be the JBs jamming with some Chicago blues old-timers.

Old ground, yes, but viewed through bright, fresh eyes. You want the real vintage rock’n’soul deal? Look this way, and then make sure you catch them live./o:p


Classic Rock 213: New Albums

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.