Thursday, December 19, 2013

Album Review: Jizzy Pearl Nearly Resurrects Love/Hate With "Crucified"

Since Love/Hate put an indelible mark on hard rock history with the 1990 anthem, "Black Out In The Red Room," singer Jizzy Pearl has not exactly rolled up in a ball and obsessed about how things were "back in the day."  To the contrary, after Love/Hate released a handful of follow up albums and subsequently disbanded, Pearl has gone on to be the replacement singer in a growing list of bands that's beginning to read like the who's who of 80's metal:  LA Guns, Ratt, and, most recently, Quiet Riot.  In addition, he has a few solo records to his credit, the latest being 2007's Just A Boy.

But things tend to come full circle and so it is with this quintessential survivor, who this year had assembled a group of talented musicians to record the first music to be attributed to the venerable Love/Hate this millennium.  The result was a six-song EP entitled Crucified, originally released on December 12.  However, legal threats from former Love/Hate members who didn't play on the release have forced Pearl to re-release the EP under his own name.

The brouhaha was thought to be due, in part, to former members believing that the material was not worthy of being considered part of the Love/Hate legacy.  That left a question from the Love/Hate faithful that we'll strive to answer in this review:  Does this new music sound like authentic Love/Hate?

 That question begins to get answered quickly as the opening track, "Hanging You Out To Dry" kicks in with such fast and reckless punk abandon that the listener has no choice but to hang on for dear life while being taken for a crazy sonic ride.  Does it sound like Love/Hate?  Well, the song is more of a cross between the Dead Kennedys and Motorhead.  But Love/Hate loyalists are unlikely to be disappointed by that.  This uptempo, ballsy tune is pretty much the perfect way for Pearl to say "I'm baa-aaaaack!"

"Sunny Day" slows the pace a bit, but the layers of razor-sharp, trebly guitars certainly leave the fingerprints of mid-'90's Love/Hate influence all over the song.  By the third tune, "You're Making Me Nervous," anyone intimately familiar with the Love/Hate catalog can't help but have their attention drawn to the distinction between this album's lyrics - penned by Pearl - and those of the lyricist behind the Love/Hate classics, Skid.

Whereas Skid's lyrics were more abstract and poetic, Pearl's tend to be more direct and first-person.  Neither approach is right or wrong, just different from each other.

"I Don't Want To Be Your Baby" starts off with the feel of a late-80's rock ballad, but as it progresses, becomes more Zeppelinesque.  It irreverently casts aside the predictable song structure of more modern music in favor of an extended jam with plenty of impressive guitar wailing that evokes reasonable comparisons to the work of the one and only Slash. 

Crucified ends on a bit of a hippie-friendly note.  "Love Is All" has such a trippy feel, complete with jungle-inspired percussion, and "Too Late" closes the EP with a Motown-worthy funk feel that is kept on the rock-n-roll side of the playground by more sweet six-stringmanship that accents Pearl's melody throughout the verses.

While Crucified may not have the mid-six-figure production nor the big hooks of the first two Love/Hate releases from 20+ years ago, there's a high probability that Love/Hate purists will enjoy Crucified.  The #1 reason being the fact that Pearl's voice still has all the characteristics fans knew and loved about old Love/Hate. Unfortunately, that's apparently as close as they will get to new Love/Hate material any time soon, if ever.

In a statement, Pearl said that after a Winter tour of the UK as Jizzy Pearl's Love/Hate, "we'll put the whole thing to bed and I'll never play with any of these ex-members again.  I love Love/Hate -- The fans are great, the music was superb but, in the end, ex-members just aren't worth the hassle."

Jizzy Pearl's gravel-paved throat has obviously skinny-dipped in the fountain of youth.  His vocal range and distinctive swagger displayed on Crucified hold so much potential for a new chapter of Love/Hate.  But with a reunion unlikely, Love/Hate fans should support Pearl's survivorship and appreciate the art that is Crucified rather than get entangled in the fight-at-the-funeral drama brewing between original band members.