CD REVIEW: MICHAEL DES BARRES – The Key To The Universe
7 April, 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
There’s an underlying vein of love coursing through Michael Des Barres’ excellent new album: the pursuit of it, lust for it, and regret at its loss. The overwhelming sense at the end of all this passionate discourse though, is of a man who knows exactly where he’s been, what he’s achieved and – of paramount importance – where he’s at now, in his 60’s.
After a long absence from the recording studio after his youthful dalliances with first Silverhead, then Detective, Checquered Past and stepping in for the departed Robert Palmer in Power Station, the celebrated rocker and actor has hit a purple patch with first 2012’s Carnaby Street, then the following year’s Hot n’ Sticky Live.
The Key To the Universe continues the trend, even upping the ante a notch or two with a collection of excellent tunes.
Opener Can’t Get You Off My Mind shows that Des Barres came here to rock, with a shit-hot band in tow. Room Full Of Angels has all the hallmarks of a power ballad, but benefits from being played straight: just a great rock n’ roll band jamming in a room, there’s nothing overblown about it.
The title track lets the light in, shining brightly, while on Maybe Means Nothing you can HEAR how much fun the band (Nigel Harrison on bass, drummer Clive Dream and guitarist Dani Robinson) are having jamming together. It’s organic and full of heart, the way rock n’ roll used to sound.
I Want Love To Punch Me In The Face is a great title and as powerful a tune, while Yesterday’s Casanova is a lament to glory days set to a rocker that brings the New York Dolls or early Alice Cooper to mind.
Closing track Supernatural Love sees Des Barres tripping out on a funky ‘60s groove, overlaid with what might be described as hippy beat poetry. It’s a departure from the rest of the album that’s more Austin Powers than garage rock, but if anyone’s gonna pull off lyrics like ‘you don’t need a Daddy, and I don’t need a nurse’, then it’s gotta be Des Barres.
The Key To The Universe is indeed love, Des Barres is saying, and with songs as instantly memorable and rocking as these, this cult artist could well be getting a lot of love from a lot more people for his music very soon.
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