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Music Review: Stevie Klasson – Don’t Shoot The Messenger

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If you have ever been to Stockholm in Sweden and whilst there felt compelled to buy a vintage guitar, the chances are that you bought it from Stevie Klasson's shop. Stevie knows a thing or two about them as he is also one of the country’s most highly regarded rock guitarists.

His album Don’t Shoot The Messenger underlines that and serves up an intoxicating romp that includes country rock, blues rock, rock with a hard edge, and rock with some edge.  He also drops in bucketloads of sleaze.

Stevie was born in 1968. After several bands, he started working with the late Johnny Thunders in America and stayed right up until his death in 1991. With that Stevie moved back from the States to London and became a much sought after session man.

By the end of the century he had moved back to Sweden and settled in Stockholm. He quickly formed The Mighty Hightones. He has also worked with The Diamond Dogs and Hanoi Rocks among others. Recently he has been on the road with one of his other bands Fat Chance.

When it was time for a solo album he had plenty of contacts to call upon. In came Robert Dahlqvist (The Hellacopters), Peter Svensson (Cardigans), Vigilante Carlstroem (The Hives) to add their undoubted talent to the sessions.

The album swaggers from the very first note driving out punchy riffs, amid a near relentless pulse. Immediacy is the key and the production sounds dirty, vibrant, and most of all, live. Built on sleazy blues laden riffs, and Jaggeresque vocals, it serves up huge fat slices of highly satisfying bar room rock.

Opener “Goin’ Mental”, powers from the speakers announcing the album’s arrival with a impressive panache. “Hand Me Downs” oozes the Stones. Stevie gives it some Jagger style delivery, above a Stones-like bass line. It blends seamlessly into “Do What You Want”. This will have you, just like the vocals tell you, struttin’ your stuff.

“Sweetheart Angel Pure” chimes in with some classic guitar riffs, above drawling vocals, complete with female backing. “Bedspring Symphony” is rich with bar room piano, and a duet between Stevie and Jenny Schyttberg. Totally direct, immediate, this is as live as a studio album can be.

Instinctively, you know it is time to cool it down and right on cue comes a real highlight “Talk Too Much”. Never messing with the formula Stevie plays it as you want it, driving track after track straight at you with a swagger, a stagger, and a slight dash of Jagger.

“Downbound Train” rocks in with a Faces ‘come party’ atmosphere that gives way to smoky bar room riffing, those honky keys, sleazy sax, and an infectious singalong chorus. Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever” is done in a way that is as addictive as the title.

Swirling keys drench “Lucky”, complete with guitar rich layers, and a sleazy vocal line. “All The Action” features ex-Pistol Glen Matlock on bass and gives us another standout moment. “Angel In Black” raises the tempo a notch or four. It leads to the final track “Don’t Mess With Evil”. Here we have Stevie giving it a dark, menacing, voodoo vibe.

Stevie plays it loose, plays it mean, and plays it drenched in dirty riffs. It will have you peering through the smoke, swigging whisky, and compulsively foot stomping.

In short if any of the above rings your bell, get into this. If it doesn't, well, Don’t Shoot The Messenger. It could be that somewhere down the line your rock 'n' roll senses may have become a little too sanitized. So get real, get raw, and get into this.

Find out more by clicking on Stevie Klasson's official website or his MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins