Classic Rock Magazine (Issue 183) Covermount CD featuring 'Rattle Your Bones' from the album 'This Mountain Waits'. You can tell PHR are hard to categorise by the mere fact that they've been given the thumbs up by figures as diverse as Wilko Johnson and the late Jon Lord. With this insistent electric piano and whispered vocal, this standout from their second album sounds like some half-remembered dream you had about Tom Waits fronting The Doors. Creepy, groovy and utterly infectious.
Classic Rock Magazine (Issue 183) Do It Again: listed on Classic Rock Magazine's Heavy Rotation page. "The retro-rockers from Bedfordshire sounded a warning shot with last year's debut album Colossus. Now they're about to return in May with a follow-up called This Mountain Waits that adds the priceless element of maturity to the mix." Dave Ling - Classic Rock
Pearl Handled Revolver
Ouroboros Semi acoustic versions of some old favourites by Pearl Handled Revolver recorded live in the studio.
Kicking off with God Won’t Let My Baby In Tonight, Ouroboros delivers right from the start. Acoustic guitar riffs underpinned by subtle, brushed drums with organ chords floating above, neatly complementing Lee Vernon’s growling vocals and incisive blues harp interjections. Bring It All Home starts off with some nice acoustic slide guitar with a real country Blues/Beggar’s Banquet vibe. Electric piano dances round Lee’s vocal and there’s another powerful blast of blues harp, full of guts and grit. Walk On By has a soulful, reverby, electric piano and understated bass and electric guitar making it the most funky, driving track so far. Closing number Going Down follows Never Liked You Anyway’s melancholy gospel with some soulful urban blues with a dynamic descending bass line, more cool brushed snare and an acoustic guitar solo that totally captures what the whole genre is about.
With its well loved songs given a fresh and understated approach, Ouroboros is a quiet triumph. Similar but crucially different it gives a whole new perspective on a great band. The New Roxette
Reviewed on www.rocktopia.co.uk
There is something satisfyingly British about ‘Colossus’, the debut album from the Bedford based blues rock five piece Pearl Handed Revolver. It’s an album that basks in the glory of the late 60’s and early 70’s when British bands like The Animals, Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple ruled the world and I can hear elements of these artists woven into the relaxed but hard hitting, psychedelic blues of Pearl Handed Revolver. The thing about this type of music is that it effortlessly transcends the fads and trends of the last four decades and is just as relevant now as it ever has been. You just need to look at the recent success of bands like Rival Sons for proof of that.
This album is ‘Colossus’ by name and colossal by nature containing ten tracks of exquisitely constructed hard rock. Recorded live the studio, the sound is so honest and authentic that I’m sure if you listened close enough you could hear the hum of the tubes in the amplifiers or the squeak of the kick drum pedal. There’s no studio trickery, no bullshit just five supremely talented guys in a room creating music from the heart. It makes you wish that all albums could be made this way doesn’t it?
Anyway, before I get all teary eyed and sentimental what about the songs? Well the album kicks off with a couple of groovy rockers ‘Stone Thrower’ and ‘Maybe In Time’ driven by Simon Rinaldo’s superlative Hammond organ patterns and the intuitive feel of Andy Paris’ guitar. Now I’m a real sucker for the Hammond organ and it (or its modern equivalent at any rate) is all over this album either providing the main riff or just adding colour or texture to the songs. On ‘Woman Made A Man Out Of Me’ the band delve into the Delta Blues with a real down n’dirty riff and some lovely blues harp touches. Vocalist Lee Vernon’s voice has a smokey, roughly hewn charm about it. On this track he sounds like Billy Gibbons after a night on the tequila and it fits the mood very well. The acoustic intro to ‘Resonate’ has a real Led Zep III feel and builds into one of my favourite cuts on the album in all its restrained beauty and power. The rhythm and blues/soul of ‘Stop Me Dead’ is up next followed by another cracking ballad ‘She Can Dance’. The Hammond motif of ‘White Lines’ harks back to the sound that The Animal made famous all those years ago. The album closes with ‘I Will Rise’ and ‘Colossus’, a couple of psychedelic blues monsters, that just drip with menace and emotion.
I just can’t say enough good things about this album which I can truly say is all killer no filler. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself and I guarantee that you too will be captivated by what it has to offer.
PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER - COLOSSUS
King Mojo Records***
A highly anticipated debut album from a five piece Bedford-based band comprising musicians well-known on the circuit. Lee Vernon, who wrote all the lyrics on the ten tracks, is on lead vocals, Oli Carter on bass, Andy Paris lead guitar, Chris Thatcher on drums and Simon Rinaldo on keyboards.
As could be expected from such an experienced bunch it is a very professional effort without fully living up to the expectations that such an ambitious title track arouses. All of the band contributed to writing the music and Lee Vernon certainly commits totally to the vocals and there is an overall freshness of sound which distinguishes Pearl Handled Revolver from those who have dominated the UK blues scene over the years from John Mayall through to today’s kingpins Ian Siegal and Oli Brown.
I love this new group’s name by the way, so apposite conjuring up as it does images of the old time blues scene on the Mississippi steamers. There are loads of really inspirational words in the songs here “Woman Made a Man Out of Me” is the tale of a man rescued from a life of drink and drugs, “Stop Me Dead” is about a man still with quite a lot left to do and highlights some of things he really needs to do and my personal favourite from the album “I Will Rise,” a great song the words of which could be used to motivate anyone feeling weighed down by life’s continual letdowns or seemingly insuperable challenges. “She Can Dance” and “Head” are narratives of the guy feeling fortunate to have met his soulmate and the besotted one who hopes that he has. I couldn’t get into the title track which is the final track on the album, “Colossus” is a bluesy and moody love song. Lee Vernon has a great voice for blues music and the group’s musicianship is excellent, it’s a good album and there is undoubtedly much more to come.
Reviewed on www.maverick-country.com
PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER Colossus King Mojo Records KMR 00002012 (2012)
Pearl Handled Revolver
Only a left field band like Pearl Handled Revolver could title their new album 'Colossus'. It's a bold and mostly successful attempt to capture the big feel, the sonic splendour, the powerful songs and the dark grooves that contribute to a faded sense of grandeur that permeates an adventurous album. 'Colossus' is rooted in rock, blues and psychedelia but is tinged with gothic edges. The band's name may convey outlaw imagery, but they are musical outlaws relentlessly pursuing a Hammond driven, alligator growled blues that is consistently anchored by versatile drummer Chris Thatcher.
Fronted by vocalist Lee Vernon, a Tom Waits sound-alike who probably inspires many well worn clichés to describe a bourbon soaked voice that defines the band's heavy style, PHR are a musically uncompromising outfit who sharply divide their audience potential between die-hard converts and floaters. The latter probably can't quite fathom the musical diversity but warm to the inherent jam elements and musical spontaneity.
The truth is that PHR weave in and out of the rock blues format with a mix of deep grooves, hard riffs and heavy arrangements that place the emphasis on feel, melody and dynamics.
The material ranges from the forbidding drone and Doom Metal of 'Woman Made A Man Out Of Me' to the opposite big sky feel of 'Resonate', one of two Americana influenced tracks. 'Resonate' gloriously lives up to its name, being a beautifully judged track full of brushed strokes and a plaintive vocal that is given its context by an intuitive production and lyrics of understated presence; 'You see this man, in who you relented, Broken in two, who just couldn't take it, Still your name, It resonates'.
And it is the way the band manages to shift between different genres that maps out an eclectic but wholly successful musical journey.
Put simply, if you buy into the heavy arrangements, repeated plays bring rich rewards. The adventurous bluster recalls early 70's bands such as Spooky Tooth - right down to the keyboard and vocal parts - and Lone Star (albeit with much tougher vocals here), and just occasionally southern rock.
There's a linear progression that is rooted in Prog rock but played out over sinewy solos, enveloping drones and occasional Americana roots. PHR play challenging and exciting music and having taken the long way home, the album finally resolves itself with a portentous Dead Can Dance gothic veneer and an eastern flavoured Zeppelin wall of sound.
'Colossus' is a coherent album with important constituent parts, ranging from the songs as a whole to the riffs, the solos, the vocals and tone colours. Even the subtle pauses, stops and gentle fades are all an essential part of a bigger musical picture. The arrangements are loose enough for keyboard player Simon Rinaldo and Andy Paris's guitar lines to push their way to the front. And at his best Lee Vernon's vocals dominate the material and being a real dynamic punch, while in lesser moments his diction wavers and he occasionally struggles with his range.
But then Pearl Handled Revolver is a band that seizes the moment and readily takes a chance. They are 'in the moment' risk takers who jam their way through a very organic sounding album to stretch songs to their full potential and take them in unforeseen directions. You can imagine both 'Stop The Dead' and the swampy John Fogerty influenced 'Maybe In Time' becoming live favourites.
And while Lee doesn't quite make the most of 'She Can Dance' - a story of lost love - he's adaptable enough to switch to an effective whispered guttural approach over a complementary guitar and organ figure. It's a song with a hypnotic opening that doesn't quite deliver what it promises and has to rely on a change of tempo to inject an extra dynamic. The band sound happier jamming on 'Head', which finishes with the couplet: And the heart of Saturday night is waiting for me. When the lights go down on you all, you'll be amazed. If your bliss is ignorance, The truth is something you fear'.
'Colossus' is crammed full of ideas and competing musical tensions and when the riffs kick in, the solos soar and the band coalesces as one, there's an intrinsic visceral quality that helps spark a raft of musical ideas into life.
Three quarters of the way in, 'Colossus' gains momentum with the farfisa sounding, energetic garage rock of 'White Lines', which is arguably one of the best vehicles for Lee's hoarse phrasing. But the best is yet to come on 'I Will Rise', a slow building anthem that opens with some gentle pounding toms and is bathed in distant echo laden guitar. Lee produces his best vocal on the album as he evokes the spirit of Jim Morrison while Simon adds expansive organ lines as part of a beautifully layered sound
The closing gothic intensity of the storm filled title track and eastern flavoured Zeppelin wall of sound is the perfect finish to a demanding album. 'Colossus' is a weighty album with enough substance, vitality and musical acumen to justify the band's American label backing.
* * * * *
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pearl Handled Revolver
Colossus by name and nature, this is a trip into hard blues/ rock territory by a band at the top of their game. Ferocious, stabbing organ solos, which would have the young Jon Lord sitting up and taking notice, luminous guitars pushing out insistent, compulsive riffs and some truly feral blues harp can be found in abundance. All underpinned by the bass and drums of Oli Carter and Chris Thatcher who are rapidly developing into an unstoppable rhythm machine. Then, there’s the voice of Lee Vernon who reinforces his blues credentials here to the Nth degree, nailing them firmly to the masthead throughout.
Opening track Stone Thrower demonstrates the above amply, as does the slow, heavy blues of Woman Made A Man Out Of Me. Acoustic ballad Resonate eases the tension while riding the cusp of the 60s/70s with floating organ chords, brushed snare and melodic bass. Stop Me Dead begins as a gutsy blues/funk workout crossing over into gospel territory by way of some lovely, churchy organ where Simon Rinaldo invokes the spirit of Tommy Eyre, reinforced by soulful backing vocals courtesy of Sophia Ripley. Meanwhile White Lines roars along with the energy and momentum a runaway truck, its high, new wavey backing vocals contrasting nicely with Lee’s growl. I Will Rise is reflective, epic and magnificent and illustrates what a subtle and creative guitarist PHR have in Andy Paris.
Title track Colossus is a massive, cinematic full screen epic. Foreboding keyboards dominate while a huge fuzzy bass threatens in the background and delicate slide guitar skates across the surface. Full of cavernous depths and sonic ambition it slowly develops into something mighty, free and other worldly.
Like I said at the beginning, Colossus by name and nature, it’s out there now towering over all contenders. But don’t just take my word for it, give it a listen and prepare to be blown away.
Pearl Handled Revolver – Colossus
This Bedford band play hard rocking blues. What separates them from the crowd and prevents them from being just another pub blues band is that they have enough left-of-centre influences to keep their sound interesting. Swirling, whirling organ drives many of the songs and creates a retro sound, evoking the early 70s of kaftans, tie-dye and incense. The spectre of the Doors sits in the wings and takes centre stage on “White Lines”. On occasion the organ steps out of the limelight and the blues harp steps in to take its place, as on the rollicking “Maybe In Time”. Also adding to the band’s distinctive sound are Lee Vernon’s vocals. He gargles from the same well as Howlin’ Wolf and Tom Waits. An acquired taste perhaps, but they add character and a world-weary air that fits the genre.
The rhythm section locks down the groove well, keeping the pots boiling, while the fluid, old school guitar is happy to solo at length. This approach takes the songs off at tangents, into the stratosphere to the far out places the jam bands of San Francisco used to go to. It adds up to a mouth-watering live proposition, but while its essence transfers to this debut, not all the material on the disc has the hooks to fully convince. “Stop Me Dead” does succeed in the memorability stakes with its almost Quireboys delivery, before its cool prog-meets-blues bridge lifts it to another level. More of this, please. The alternative roots sounding ballad “Resonate”, like a Keith Richards’ solo album track, also burrows into your head. However, by the last two tracks, “I Will Rise” and “Colossus”, the good song ideas are fast drying up and they rely on their jams to keep interest levels up. All in all, this album is a grower and in a genre often derided for retreading what’s gone before, Pearl Handled Revolver use their varied influences to create a fresh sound, making them a welcome addition to the UK blues scene.
POWERPLAY ISSUE 141 - APRIL 2012
Review by DUNCAN JAMIESON
In a recent interview we were asked “Did you master the art of recording your live sound, or do you play live just like your records?”
In truth, harnessing the energy and passion of our live performances has always been the ultimate goal and with 'Colossus' we feel that we succeeded. Recording ten of our finest tracks live has produced incredible results… and the time is finally upon us to share it all with you.
We launch our debut album on Saturday 25th February at the legendary Bedford Esquires. Once our friends 'The Beautiful Sleazy' have warmed you all up, we'll take to the Main Stage to give you the whole show. We will be proud to play you all every track from this album … and we plan to do it in style!
To be the first to lay hands on “Colossus” and hear us perform its tracks there is only one place to be. It’s quite simple… if you’re reading this, then you’re invited! So come down and join in the celebrations.
In honour of all the people who helped to raise this monster…
Pearl Handled Revolver bring you “Colossus”
25th February 2012.
*Free entry till capacity is reached. If you wish to add your name and email to our guest list in advance to ensure entry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org before it’s too late!
PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER, The Psychedelic Monks in the Electric Church of Doom, The CC Smugglers
Saturday 20th August 2011
Reviewed by Fran Bove
Tonight The CC Smugglers made their esquires debut, delivering a unique style of country/skiffle/blues to the early crowd.
One music lover was heard to proclaim "The CC Smugglers are like Mumford and Sons, only dirtier" and I have to agree. If Mumford and Sons were to do away with woeful ballads, hook Jack Daniels up to their veins and smoke Marlborough Reds then The CC Smugglers is what you'd get.
Front man Rich’s patter entertains the crowd between songs, particularly when he thanks “Pearl Handled Vulva” for the opportunity to support them, before promptly blaming the band for putting him up to the friendly banter. There’s no hard feelings from the headliners though, who are seen laughing along with the rest of the room.
The music speaks for itself though, and it’s a safe bet to say that this band will return to Esquires.
Next to take the baton and grace the hallowed stage of esquires were the Psychedelic Monks in the Electric Church of Doom. Looking like something out of Dr Who, but sounding more like Dr Feelgood, (though considerably edgier) the three piece pounded out blues as if the rapture was upon us. Thankfully the end of time did not come, instead 30 minutes of heavy blues rock was delivered with a hint of evil (in the form of golden masks and red cloaks). This was allegedly the Monk’s first gig. On this basis the future is very bright for this band with a dark side.
Since their arrival on the local scene only two years ago Pearl Handled Revolver have not only built a strong local and wider following based upon great live performances, they’ve also; self recorded 3 EPs, signed a deal with King Mojo Records, had extensive radio play in the UK, Europe and USA, supported The Black Crowes at The Paradiso in Amsterdam, signed a management deal with Blue Room Management, recorded two high quality music videos and recorded a full length album that is currently being mixed and mastered.
These boys are set for great things, and you might forgive them for all this going to their head. Nothing could be further from the truth. As they take to the stage front man Vern states boldly “We love playing in this town”.
When the Wu Tang Clan asked us to “check out their gravel pit” they forgot to mention that Vern had swallowed all the gravel. His voice has more texture than a roll of sandpaper and when you add his bluesy melodies into the mix you’re treated to a vocal that will be etched into your musical memory for the rest of time.
But Vern’s voice isn’t the only thing to remember from this gig. Simon’s keys and organ playing is as unique as it is hook laden (in case you’re unsure, that’s very unique and very hook laden). Andy’s rifftastic guitar playing is measured and delivered with true feel. Chris’s drumming is reliable without being predictable and Oli’s bass lines hit the spot every time.
On selected tracks we’re treated to twin guitars from Andy and Oli, through their pair of Fender Twin amps whilst Simon plays the bass lines on his keys.
Pearl Handled Revolver play with passion, they play with heart and they play as if they’re enjoying every minute of being onstage. With such great songs, delivered by a band who play so very well together PHR could truly rise to the great heights they deserve. The appreciative audience at Bedford Esquires will, in years to come, remember the time they saw this band up close in their hometown just before the big things happened.
Pearl Handled Revolver @ The Paradiso Amsterdam
A hard rain’s gonna fall – and it did – relentlessly on this particular summers night on de Weteringschans – a main artery through the west of town. Drenched tourists flock to the Hard Rock Café to ‘load face’ and bask in close proximity of rock n roll artefacts of dubious origin. Meanwhile next door actual history may just be in the making.
The Paradiso – an ex 19th Century Church which once served as a centre-point for the late 60’s counter culture is a fitting setting for Bedford ‘heavy blues’ outfit Pearl Handled Revolver. This, their second visit to this exalted venue, is something of an after show party for legendary Americana merchants The Black Crowes who have just wrapped up their penultimate gig in the main hall. The Crowes audience making for the exits are surprised to be confronted with the swirling Hammond-heavy grooves of PHR as they kick off their set in one of the adjoining café bar stages. The blues connection – heavy or otherwise – is something of a misnomer though. Sure, the raw delivery of vocalist Lee Vernon evokes a certain swampy mythology but essentially PHR possess all the requisites of the kind of band they used to file under ‘Classic Rock’. Weaving a deft blend of West Coast and East Anglia they air their latest material to a crowd who go from bemused to die hard in about 0.01 seconds.
PHR are all about setting and mood – light and shade – ethereality and weight. The rooms of The Paradiso resound symbiotically and you’d think their baroque rock was made for the place.
Later as the crowds leaving The Paradiso and the Hard Rock Café intermingle on the city’s puddle dashed streets it occurs to me that for every person that saw The Doors at The Whiskey, The Beatles at The Cavern or The Ramones at CBGB’s, thousands opted for something else to do on those nights…. Burger anyone ?