It's been a hell of a long time since Fast Eddie Clarke played the blues. He's been far more known for his work with Motorhead and ex-Hawkwind acid-damage case, the ever colorful Lemmy, in chunka-clunka rock showing the Ramones how it's done. Then there was Fastway, a hard rock outfit, but he did indeed once twangle the strings blues-wise way back when, in the early 70s in a now completely unknown group, Curtis Knight Zeus, a rare slab impossible to find in vinyl. Yep, it's been way too long since he dove back into the genre, and this CD shows why he prolly shoulda been doing so all along.
No doubt the guy had his virtues over the last four decades, but he never really hit the stride everyone, me included, expected him to. Make My Day: Back to the Blues, however, goes down like smooth whiskey, and I've no doubt it's going to surprise quite a few people. Here's the strange part to it: at a party, Eddie's introduced to Bill Sharpe on the premise they just might hit it off musically and so introduced them. Yeah, that Bill Sharpe, the guy from Shakatak, and what on Earth would be more unlikely than Shakatak, an 80s dance band with huge chart hits, meeting with a Motorhead cohort of bruising biker rock that hadn't a chance in Hades to be warmly embraced by Billboard? Very little, I can assure you, but that's not what happened here. The two are quite copacetic.
Eddie's definitely feeling his age nowadays, rock and roll's a tough slog even at the best of times, and that late-life consciousness permeates this release through and through, puts an edge on things even though his playing is confident and straightforward, with Sharpe's keyboards keeping each cut balanced—backing vocals by Jill Saward, Shakatak's singer, help a lot too. Ah, but isn't Eddie's hardtack regret, anger, and semi-reconciliation that what the blues is all about? That 'screw Earth and everyone on it' sentiment? Well, ya get that in spades here, pilgrim, though Ed ain't the best vocalist in Creation either (sounds a tad like Stan Webb here and there), but rough-hewn pipes aren't an unknown blooz commodity either.
A couple years ago, I wrote up the final Fastway CD (here), though no one at the time knew the band was fated to drop, and noted that Clarke seemed on the upswing. He's a crusty bloke who went through the paces twixt then and now, but my observation's been borne out, as Make My Day is one of the best releases the rocker's ever laid down. I would suggest, though, that he bury the hatchet with himself and get hip to a more professional singer again (mightn't hurt to work on the lyrics a skosh too), stick with Sharpe, and get ready for a rebirth 'cause everything here is saying just that. Besides, with Gary Moore gone, Kim Simmonds could use the company.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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