If Josh Todd gets any more tattoos, he might begin to resemble an amphibian or an apple tree or something else with long green arms, but for now he's enjoying an unlikely return to the pop charts with hard rockers Buckcherry.
“That's the best thing about America, you can get a second chance… and I'm very grateful for it."
Josh is referring to Buckcherry's second lease of life, having split in 2002 under the strain of their label's implosion and the underperformance of sophomore release Time Bomb
. After an unsuccessful attempt at a solo career, Todd and [guitarist] Keith Nelson reformed Buckcherry in early 2005 with an entirely new rhythm section, which included ex-Ju Ju Hound Jimmy Ashurst on bass, and recorded the album Fifteen
“We went into the studio and vowed not to come out until we had a successful, ass-kicking, career-defining album," says Josh. But as recently as this time last year the group couldn't pay a US label to take on the album. In the end, it was demand for imports of the Japanese release that convinced Atlantic Records to re-sign the band. Since then, Fifteen
had sold in excess of 300,000 copies, mainly on the strength of the hit single ‘Crazy Bitch'.
At the time of going to to press, ‘Crazy Bitch' has been climbing the charts for almost three months, this week peaking at an impressive #59 on the Billboard Top 100. The randy refrain of “you're a crazy bitch, but you fu
ck so good I'm on top of it" is paradoxically offensive, awkwardly written and perfect radio material, a feat the band achieved in 1999 with the cocaine-fuelled ‘Lit Up'. Luckily for Buckcherry, embarrassingly sleazy works as well as it did seven years ago- that is, quite well but oddly enough only for them.
contains all the same elements as Buckcherry
and Time Bomb
, however it's apparent from the outset that the “new" band plays with a swagger and self-confidence not always apparent on those records. Nelson and Todd were never short of meaty riffs or catchy power-pop melodies, but the bland, plodding backing often sucked the all-important energy from the tracks. Not so anymore: drummer Xavier Muriel is just as comfortable with latin rhythms as hard rock, and bassist Jimmy Ashurst's work with rhythm guitar god Izzy Stradlin speaks for itself.
Josh Todd , never lacking in confidence, is also on fine form here. Opening with the line [from ‘So Far'] “I'll tell you how the story's told…" and hanging with the repetitious chorus “I didn't do it for money/I did it all for free/I did it all to fill the fuc
king hole inside of me", he clearly has something more important than “I love the cocaine" to say, and with increased lyrical maturity comes a sweeter sense of melody, as heard on the touching “Slower" songs ‘Carousel' and ‘Sorry'.
Keith, too, places a greater emphasis on melody, de-cranking his amp for much of the album and embracing the blues-y Rich Robinson-inspired vibe only hinted at on earlier releases, especially on ‘Brooklyn'- a ‘Bad Boy Boogie'-goes-slide blues affair that abley demonstrates his newfound tasteful style. On the other hand, rockers ‘Crazy Bitch,' ‘So Far' and ‘Onset' feature some of the most impressive lead playing he's produced in recent years.
Key tracks are hard to pick out- for the first time Buckcherry have managed to produce a consistent album. Featuring only eleven tracks, the band took no chances with filler, and there's easily half a dozen potential singles on display. ‘Crazy Bitch' is worth a listen for the lyrical content alone, however the Slash-like noodling provides a perfect counterpoint to Todd's relatively straight vocal. ‘So Far' and second single ‘Next 2 You' show Josh at his raspy, Axl-y best, while ‘Carousel' is so sweet it's hard to imagine that it's the same guy who's spent the last ten minutes screaming “f[size=2]uck[./size] so loud it could resurrect Ronald Reagan.
Those hoping they'd seen the last of Buckcherry may cringe when they hear the shockingly shallow single, but those of us who saw in Buckcherry the potential to produce a great rock album in the Appetite For Destruction
vein can take great heart in the latest effort from Buckcherry. Fifteen
isn't a perfect album, but it's a welcome addition to the rock charts at a time when the genre is becoming ever more streamlined.