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Review: 'BROWN, REX'
'Smoke On This'   

-  Label: 'Steamhammer/SPV'
-  Genre: 'Rock' -  Release Date: '28th July 2017'

Our Rating:
People who see this review will fall into two camps. camp one, those who go "wow a solo album by Rex Brown, cool I must investigate as I love his bass playing in Pantera and Down." Then in camp 2, everyone else will be going "Rex who?" and on hearing who he played bass for will expect either more of the same thrash and speed metal with Down's sludgy bass thrown in for good measure. If they even know what Down sound like.

Now I freely admit I fall into the second camp. I enjoyed seeing Down at the Download festival, but I was never really a Pantera fan so the fact that I love this album came as a bit of a surprise to me.I also hope it will come as a surprise to a good few listeners as this is a great power pop meets hard rock album. Oh, and Rex sings and plays Guitar rather than bass on it.

The Opening Lone Rider is about driving a truck down the highway, stealing what he wants over a cool almost chuntering heavy blues riff before a great guitar solo kicks in the middle of it. This just sounds like a great Biker/trucker rock tune.

Crossing Lines is a grizzled Biker rock break-up song that could almost have a windblown 80's Whitesnake-style video to go with it. That would work totally and it grooves along at a decent pace too.

Buried Alive is Rex's tribute to his fallen compadre, Dimebag Darrell and the pit of despair he fell into after that tragic and pointless murder. This is every bit as dark and heartfelt as you'd expect it to be, with a sort of grungy feel to it: a bit like the slower end of Soundgarden's oeuvre. I hope all that black water helped to dull the pain and playing this tune live should be cathartic too.

Train Song starts with a pounding riff and phased vocals that add an almost power-pop metal feel to the song as that riff helps us to all get away underground. It's a pretty good train song.

Get Yourself Alright has a very heavy psychedelic feel to it, making it a perfect bit of Stoner rock. The lyrics about getting yourself right and finding your own solutions are cool and in places it sounds like he's trying to make a heavier version of one of those Golden Earring songs one of my dealers used to always play way back when and it works pretty well.

Fault Lines slows things down and mellows things out a good bit. It's a piece of almost dreamy psychedelic blues that is only cut when you start to listen to the lyrics as the dream turns to a nightmare of Suicide and feeling like a prisoner. I've had to rewind the selector for an extra listen while writing this great late night song.

What Comes Around opens like it's going to be like Rainbow; all rifftastic but has far more of the idea to be a psych pop song with a slightly heavier edge to it while being pretty gentle. It's also stolen a few bits musically from Dear Prudence but more of the Siouxsie and The Banshees version than The Beatles and it will stick in your head too.

Grace is phased, down-tuned, pretty pop and could almost be sung by someone like Paddy McAloon in that Prefab Sprout way and I never expected to be making that sort of comparison. But no, Rex's voice sounds nothing like Paddy's, it's just the song feels like it would work that way too.

So Into You is a great bluesy rock love song as Rex is telling his new found love what he thinks of her. It's a bit like hearing someone like Free's Alright Now being re-purposed for an older gent to sing to his latest squeeze but with a heavy edge to it.

Best Of Me is a real slow-burning fuse builder of a song as Rex explains how that new squeeze gets the best of him on her way to being the new ex. He's both thankful to her and ready to move on. In places, when it gets real down and bleak it sounds like Anathema but the organ sound is far more 60's Brian Auger. I wish it was more upfront than it is but when it punches through it's very cool.

One Of These Days is a cool and dramatic Murder ballad that switches to an almost a capella part which threatens to go all Poison lighter in the air ballad but thankfully while it is all windblown epic ballad it keeps going by slowing down the riff and tune to Hey Jude and rebuilding it so that one of these days he will find you. I'm damn glad this album found its way to my review pile as I really like it.

Now light up a big one and go and listen to this album you won't regret it. Find out more at Rex Brown Facebook Page
  author: simonovitch

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BROWN, REX - Smoke On This