Review Summary: Even if their musical formula isn’t entirely original, these performances are spirited & flat-out rocking from the start.
FASTWAY’s self-titled debut was a brash, hard rocking record that seemingly arrived out of nowhere in early 1983. Their musical style is mostly straightforward British hard boogie rock played with an abrasive edge, yet still pleasingly catchy and accessible. This record created a rather positive buzz among hard rock & metal fans when it was first released and enjoyed some success in the States.
Originally conceived as a sort-of British hard rock super group that was to combine the talents of Motorhead guitarist “Fast Eddie” Clarke, UFO bassist Pete Way & Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley, one of the band’s namesakes (Pete Way) actually departed before recording began to tour with Ozzy. The bass duties were handled by session player Mick Feat, who was uncredited on the album.
Fast Eddie’s secret weapon was a then unknown 22-year old Irish singer named Dave King. It’s King’s vocals that really sell these songs. His delivery is quite raucous, edgy and perfectly suitable for Fastway’s retro take on classic British hard rock. Eddie Clarke’s guitar ideas are fairly basic in composition, but that simplicity also lends these songs a very classic sound.
It is undeniable that several songs on this album bear a strong Led Zeppelin influence. The hard boogie shuffle of “Easy Livin’” is quite reminiscent of “Rock & Roll” in its structure and key choices. The chorus for “All I Need Is Your Love” is unnervingly similar to “Out On The Tiles”, as well as the way Plant-like way that King phrases a few lines. Yet another example would be the drum sound during beginning of “Heft” which evokes “When The Levee Breaks”. At most, these borrowed bits just gave me reason to chuckle a bit, for even Zeppelin wasn’t above lifting some good bits from other artists for a bit of songwriting inspiration. However, I do believe critics have made way too much of the issue and have been way too dismissive of Fastway for this reason. Well, that’s too bad for them, because they seem to be missing the point entirely.
Even if their musical formula isn’t entirely original, these performances are spirited & flat-out rocking from the start. The bashing hard boogie of “Easy Livin’” slams the listener straight over the head and turns the room into a rowdy bar for those 3 minutes. Their infectious single “Say What You Will” is very much a Fastway original that features a unforgettable rolling blues lick and is tailor made for crowd participation. Another great track was their 2nd single, “We Become One”, which is the heaviest song on the album and one that would find greater appeal with metal fans. Another highlight is the bonus track “Far Far From Home”, which is a slow blues-rock number that was too good to have been left off the record. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this album to any fans of British hard rock.