Today Eurorock is off to Italy to have a look at and listen to a classic rock inspired power trio called Johnfish Sparkle. The band came about following the demise of Jackyl Jail after four years on the road.
Bass player Dave Perilli and drummer Rob Gasoline joined forces with vocalist and lead guitar man Al Serra and together the trio power out rock heavily inspired by some of the biggest names of all time. When I see a band listing the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream, Budgie, Humble Pie, and The Who as their main inspiration, I tend to get a mixture of nervousness amid a kind of eager anticipation.
You see I am very much from that era. One week I would be lucky enough to see the great Steve Marriott fronting Humble Pie, the next I was queuing miles to get Zeppelin tickets. When I saw The Who at Charlton football ground in nineteen seventy something I thought I was catching them for just about the last time. How wrong can you be?
Of course Cream and Budgie are the 'trios' in the Johnfish threesome’s list and they both regularly wake up the sleepy French village where I live when they hit my turntable. Whilst being great at providing inspiration they are heavy names to risk comparisons with. However, within a few seconds of Johnfish Sparkle’s self titled debut kicking off you become aware that these guys have been listening, and listening rather closely.
They open with “Freedom At Last” a sentiment I can identify with having finally escaped the noose of commuting into London last year. A wall of classic riffs hit you as the album delivers as confident-a-start as you could hope for. Involuntarily I reach for the volume and crank up enough decibels to worry glass. You just have to when a band, influenced by such quality, threatens to get it right.
I’m not sure if singer Serra is Italian as you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell from his well delivered – urm – delivery. Meanwhile his guitar stridently gives us some classic riffs. He also adds some moments that just take me back a long long time ago when bands such as Budgie, Stray, and the like molded my musical taste forever.
When “Feelin’ Down” breezes in most of the doubts that I initially had are in danger of being laid to rest. Drummer Rob, and the bass of Dave Perilli sit tightly behind frontman Al. It’s an energetic, vibrant time capsule combining a lot of what they grew up listening to but topped off with enough standalone style of their own to carry it through.
I like the self belief, an essential classic rock quality. With that comes confidence, the understanding and respect of what they are locking into, and its rawness. The jagged edges remain and it's all the better for them. In a world of primed, polished, produced, image conscious plasticity this is just heart warmingly rough and ready. It’s as though the three lads have pitched up in your front room, plugged in, and decided to rock away a beer soaked afternoon.
“Hey Man” is a track you already know but can’t quite place. “We Never Know” is also strong but by now the risk of becoming samey has just started nudging its way into your mind. A quick change of gear changes that and “Tale Of A Lonely Man” arrives set amid an acoustic guitar reminiscent of a Zeppelinesque Jimmy Page.
Some more energy is restored in “How Many Miles?” and the confidence rich “Down In Mexico”. “Mr. Window” opens with another impressive riff, as does “Dance Into The Fire” which closes the album. All in all there is a lot here to indicate a solid future. Riffs aplenty, and enough energy to carry it off Johnfish Sparkle are beginning to shine like their name.
They're not yet the finished article. It would be wrong to expect them to be but if they can build upon this solid block of rock then who knows?
More information and that all important listen can be had by visiting the band's MySpace page.