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Looking more like 30-something session bods than the hot young street-walking cheetah teens one might expect of a much-hyped new act, Vintage Trouble are here to reactivate the stomping vibe of 1960's R&B - rather like Geno Washington, hero of that ace Dexys Midnight Runners anthem, did in London's "sweaty clubs" in the late-70s.
Formed in Hollywood, recorded in upscale Laurel Canyon, and represented by Doc McGhee, a legendary manager previously behind such mega-acts as Motley Crue, KISS and James Brown, there is a sense of 'fait accompli' about VT's swift rise. A rousingly kinetic appearance on Later with Jools Holland served as an eyebrow-raising introduction to these shores, followed by tours supporting Brian May and Bon Jovi. Certainly well-connected, these fellas.
This debut record kicks off energetically with Blues Hand Me Down (their Later… song), in the vein of Led Zeppelin II - loud, heavy, yowling, with substantial guitar solos, but also naggingly generic. Is there a point, you gradually wonder, to a combo cutting their own material today which is so squarely according to the specific codes of R&B past? Gracefully, a Solomon Burke-style ballad, is so slavishly Atlantic Records 1966, it's actually an obstacle to feeling its emotional impact. A shame, because Ty Taylor sings with all the gravelly conviction of Otis Redding - again, though, he seems never quite destined to rise above that reference, and genuinely move you.
On the plus side, VT's sound is raw and warm and enveloping - the kind of delectably twangin' blues hum which seduces innumerable millions around the world into buying American beer via TV adverts. They have, thus far, a couple of outstanding songs - the achingly world-weary Nobody Told Me and the Chuck Berry-riffed, call-and-response belter Nancy Lee - but these won't be sufficient to blow away the post-millennial pop fluff from the charts' upper echelons, as doubtless had been projected in their marketing meetings.
Where Vintage Trouble are bound for glory (like Geno, who never sold any records whatsoever), is onstage. Live, these four's energy and enthusiasm for the cause is far less resistible, with or without an accompanying King of Beers. In short: go see 'em instead.