The worlds of rock and musical theatre have crossed paths on mercifully few occasions. Yes, Sebastian Bach and Paul Stanley have both played the Phantom Of The Opera on stage, and Alice Cooper provided the voice of King Herod for a 90s recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. And then, of course, there’s Queen’s We Will Rock You, that depressingly long-running West End production that is to great theatre what Steven Hawking is to pole-vaulting. But what little traffic that has passed over the years has largely been one way.
Ty Taylor, singer with Vintage Trouble – the sharp-dressed Los Angeles quartet who have recently shared a stage with Bon Jovi and, ironically, Brian May – is coming at it from the other direction. Dapper, pocket-sized and in possession of a larynx that’s one part grit and one part honey, he made his name – and learned how to hold a crowd – in an assortment of Andrew Lloyd Webber-tastic shows on Broadway. And yes, he was in We Will Rock You.
But don’t hold that against him or his band. The artfully frayed soul-rock of Vintage Trouble’s debut album owes more to the Stones, Otis Redding or latter-day blues-rock revivalists The Black Keys than Michael Ball or Elaine Paige. Wearing its retro influences proudly on its immaculately-tailored suit, The Bomb Shelter Sessions channels the energy of their sweat-soaked live shows into a tight, fast- footed 40 minutes. The charismatic Taylor is at the heart of it all, wailing through rocket-fuelled, finger-snapping opener Blues Hand Me Down, weaving purposefully through the downcast Nobody Told Me and giving it the full heart-busted soul man routine on slow-burning, eight minute climax Run Outta You.
Behind him, guitarist Nalle Kolt brings some proper rock’n’roll grit to the tightly-wound Nancy Lee – a song that virtually sweats with second-hand Southern sultriness – and the harmonica-peppered train-track blues of You Better Believe It. It’s not flawless. There’s one low-key ballad too many and there are times when you wish they’d really floor it and truly cut loose.
And when it comes down to it, The Bomb Shelter Sessions is essentially an extended rummage round the car boot sale of late 60s and early 70s rock’n’soul, and as such it doesn’t bring anything even remotely new to the table. But then it doesn’t have to.
When it comes to something old, something borrowed and something blue(s), Vintage Trouble have it sewn up tighter than a soul-man’s trousers.