The Magpie Salute - 'The Magpie Salute'

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 13, 2018    
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A debut that was seemingly rush released to capitalise on the buzz generated by their gigs.

We all know flirtatious individuals who dangle the promise of something special in front of people's smitten faces, only to scamper away and leave them frustratingly unfulfilled. Based around the guitar axis of former The Black Crowes gunslingers Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, The Magpie Salute's eagerly anticipated debut album is kind of the musical equivalent of such merciless teasing.

Formed in 2016, this ten-piece ensemble – which includes ex-Crowes Sven Pipien (bass) and keyboardist Eddie Harsch (who has since passed away) – have already earned rave reviews for their sizzling live shows, rolling back the years with a variety of Southern Rock, Americana and Rock 'n' Roll covers.

However, it was 'Omission', the gang's first self-penned number, that suggested they could be a cracking creative outfit in their own right. Over sinewy slide and loose-limbed grooves, singer John Hogg shows off his impressive pipes – like a less coruscating Chris Cornell (RIP) – as the song, which could be TBC possessed by Cream, builds to a soulful hook floating atop a sea of stomping riffage.

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Alas, that gem is the only original track on a debut that was seemingly rush released to capitalise on the buzz generated by their gigs, and is bulked up with eight cover songs recorded live in front of a studio audience. This makes it feel more like a bonus disc attached to the re-issue of a vintage album than a statement of intent from a new band looking to make their mark.

In fairness, they knock out superlative renditions of Eric Burden's 'War Drums', Delaney And Bonnie's 'Comin' Home', traditional prison work song 'Ain't No More Cane' as well as 'Wiser Time' and 'What Is Home' from TBC. They're musically sublime too, individually gifted and collectively so tight you couldn't squeeze a slither of fresh air between them. Ford's wonderful soloing and sweet, scorpion-sting slide work are practically worth the price of the album alone.

If you love this style of music, enjoy some prolonged instrumental passages and are searching for the world's most proficient covers band, you'll adore The Magpie Salute. However, a group boasting this much talent could and should have charged out the blocks with an album full of their own classics. As such, 'Omission' is basically the appetiser before a potentially scrumptious main course we're still waiting to taste.

Simon Ramsay

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