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Music Review: Chris Spedding – Just Plug Him In Remastered Reissue

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“Are you ready for this?” asks Chris Spedding’s “long term partner in crime” vocalist Robert Gordon at the start of this newly re-released collection of 14 live tracks.

What makes Just Plug Him In (Angel Air Records) very special indeed is that the tracks on this re-mastered album has been chosen by Chris himself from live dates dating from 1977 to 1989. Not only that but it also benefits from revealing and entertaining sleeve-notes written by the man himself.

Just Plug Him In is the perfect title for a live album featuring Mr. Spedding. The story of how this comes about is in the aforementioned notes but in reality need little explanation. He is after all one of THE best rock ‘n’ roll guitarists in recent memory.

This is proved here when he scorches through such gems as “Walkin’” and delivers an incendiary and positively dangerous “Shakin’ All Over.” Perhaps best known as the leather clad guitar toting rocker shown on the cover shot versatile Chris, formerly of The Sharks, has also been one of the most in demand session guitarists for many years.

His list of credits make for impressive reading and include Jack Bruce, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney, Georgie Fame, Roxy Music, Cozy Powell, and for my French neighbours veteran rocker Johnny Hallyday, among many, many more.

The album, originally released back in 1991 comes with a solid wall of quality sound that activates the all important ‘live’ feel. The distinctively meaty 50s flavoured riff that opens “Gunfight”, recorded in 1979 at Boston, Massachusetts, acts as the perfect scene setter.

Meanwhile the brilliant “Walkin’”, “”Catch That Train”, “Snakes And Swallowtails”, “Music Breakout”, “Who’s Who”, and “Hey Miss Betty” all come from an earlier tour in 1977. It was his first covering lead vocals, which he delivers in a semi-spoken, Stranglers-like style.

Also included are the inevitable hit “Motorbikin’”, which along with “Hurt”, and “Mary Lou” come from his New York period in the early 80s. It was a set that included “Guitar Jamboree” a great bit of fun that sees Chris morphing into all the great guitar heroes including Jimi Hendrix, blues maestro Albert King, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Paul Kossoff, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Leslie West, and just about anyone who was or is anyone.

It was a tour to promote his excellent album Hurt released that year, an album well worth checking out. The sound here is the best that could be obtained from the gig with the searing energy and atmosphere coming through loud and clear.

These tracks from NYC also feature the greatly missed bass player Busta Jones, who was with Chris in The Sharks. Chris explains, “Busta would challenge me onstage night after night, egging me on to take more musical risks on the guitar, and I loved it!”

The set also boasts “Silver Bullet”, and “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” which are chosen from a gig in Berlin in 1989. Sadly, even the best get it wrong sometimes and the notes amusingly tell us where he was (or wasn’t) when the Berlin Wall came down.

The album also highlights the quality of Chris’s touring partners over the years a list that includes Steve Curry, Tony Newman, Robert Gordon, Mick Oliver, and many more. It really should be available on the National Health. It is the perfect cure for a day at the dullest of dead-end jobs in the greyest of towns.

Re-mastered from Chris’s own master tapes, with hand picked tracks all played by one of the best, this really can’t fail to get your pulse rate jumping. As they say Just Plug Him In and Chris will do the rest.

Still very active, with The War Of The Worlds tour coming up Chris’s website is well worth checking out. Also don’t forget to give your credit card an airing by visiting the irresistible Angel Air catalogue.

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