Famous Underground – S/T

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Review by Paul H Birch

Fronted by Nick Walsh, former lead vocalist with 1993 Juno Award and Gold Record Canadian band Slik Toxik, who went on to form Revolver with bass player Laurie-Ann Green, the pairings’ new band offers a musical smorgasbord with their self-titled album.

It took me quite a bit of listening to get my head round Famous Underground because they’ve taken on a diversity of influences not usually tossed together this side of a covers band. Regardless, the rock and roll stampede of opening track ‘Wasteland’ echoes Metallica or Megadeth with Mustaine trying on a Robert Plant impersonation for size that works quite well. Lyrically, it’s T.S. Elliott by way of Guns n’ Roses’ ‘Paradise City’, and as the singer himself has noted, “We’re not preaching, but we’re pointing things out to people, saying ‘Look around at the world you’re living in.’ There are things going on that need to be brought to people’s attention, and if they don’t get it in a song they’re not going to get it at all.”

Elsewhere, songs like ‘Forever and a Day’ and ‘On Broken Wings’ are stadium rock cigarette-lighter waving type ballads, the former with a country and western flavour and the latter more lyrically introspective, but both cut from the same cloth that gave us similar songs by Bon Jovi and Poison, and possibly Slik Toxik.

The band is completed by drummer Desche Sparboom and Rick Corvese and Darren Boyd on guitars. It sounds like the guitarists’ roles are well defined: there’s a definite sluggish distorted sub-grunge rhythm guitar that is the cornerstone of all the songs (most typically evidenced by the inclusion of bonus tracks where an acoustic plays out chords to carry the song in the same manner), and a lead player who tends to opt for small lyrical melodies akin to Slash, the pair working most effectively in this manner on tracks like ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Hell to Pay’.

To be frank, the bonus tracks are the ones that came across best for me, Walsh himself singing in a purer form. But, as a “What if” scenario of that infamous US tour where Metallica and Guns n’ Roses toured together, and if members from each band had split to form a new one combining aspects of both then Famous Underground kind of fit that bill.

Famous Underground6.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Wasteland
  2. Overdrive
  3. Dead Weight
  4. Love Stands Still
  5. Forever and a Day
  6. Necropolis
  7. Wheel of Misfortune
  8. Mommy is a Junkie
  9. On Broken Wings
  10. Bullet Train
  11. Hell to Pay

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Dead Weight (Acoustic)
  2. On Broken Wings (Reprise)