Simply put, this is great rock and roll. There's none of the contrived complexity and faux-art of so called Rock [sans roll] music. This is simple, hard-driving music with down-to-earth lyrics and a solid beat. The vocals are emotional and heartfelt. This is rock and roll as it grew out of its grass roots some fifty years ago.
Listening to Mike Plume brings to mind a whole range of rock and roll artists from Buddy Holly to The Velvet Underground. This is the sort of roots rock we hear from artists like Springsteen and Mellenkamp, but it reaches further back to the truer, simpler roots of rock and roll. Vocally, Plume reminds me of Bob Seger at his simplest and most direct and, especially, of Tom Petty.
At one level, one might think this is great American music. In fact, the artist is Canadian, one of the latest in a long tradition of hard-hitting Canadian rock and roll artists dating back to the genre's beginnings in the early fifties. I have long admired the solid rock and roll that comes out of Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, Vancouver, and up the West Coast of British Columbia, Winnipeg and Calgary. Traditionally, some of the hardest-rocking American hits have come from great Canadian bands.
Transcending the constraints of the always simple rock and roll lyric form, Plume's lyrics are tight and poetic, telling evocative stories of life and love. Plume's words raise these songs to another, finer level approaching the work of Buddy Holly, Bob Seger, and Lou Reed. This is rock and roll but it's also contemporary art created not for the toffs but for the people.
While many of these songs are heavy up-tempo rockers, others are gentle ballads meant to touch the heart. For example, "Dancing on the Wind" is a sweet visual song filled with images and metaphors that evoke larger romantic scenes. The words and images approach the subtle power of Leonard Cohen's earlier, simpler poetry. The music is supportive but unobrusive. The vocal is emotional and touching.
"Birmingham" starts off the set with a solid, rocking beat reminiscent of the sixties instrumental hit "Wild Weekend" pumping along at medium tempo. To not dance or at least bop a little is not an option. "One of Those Days" picks up the tempo a bit with some vintage rock and roll licks. The party has started.
Instrumentally and vocally, "Ride" especially brings to mind the Tom Petty of "Refugee" vintage. This song has perhaps the most rock and roll lyric structure on this release. Even without the musical background, this lyric would read more like Ferlinghetti than Cohen.
Rock & Roll Recordings, Volume 1 is one CD that I don't mind hearing repeatedly in order to write a review. It's worth the time and effort. I do recommend this release to anyone who enjoys good rock and roll and excellent writing. I look forward to hearing volumes two through infinity.
Rock & Roll Recordings, Volume 1
Clann Records Ltd