A search for ‘Toaster’ on YouTube turns up the band playing Queens ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ and ‘Wheels’ by the Foo Fighters.
A play of the CD ‘Fried Air’ turns up the band playing very much in the style of those two very bands – Queen in their ‘The Game’ phase at any rate. Rock n Roll songs that sound like they’ve been thought about and worked on a lot rather than jotted down in five minutes on the back of a paper napkin. Very likely that’s the case too. When I spoke to Ronald Jonker recently he told me that with his other commitments (touring the World as bassist with Ana Popovic!) the CD has taken a couple of years to go from idea to actual plastic.
The good news is that it was worth the effort. Belgian Werner Pensaert who includes work with U2 on his CV has done an excellent job of maintaining a 70’s feel but a modern clean sound to the tracks. The lead vocals, shared between Jonker and guitarist Allard Gosen are also well mixed but even so they suggest that future concerts, if not discs, by Ana P could make use of an as yet untapped resource.
The CD kicks off in fine 70’s pomp rock style with the pumping riff of ‘Here Today’ which would sit happily on a Deep Purple disc. If the vocals aren’t up there with Ian Gillan they’re not at all bad either. ‘Soaked in Love’ is next up and suffers by comparison. Where the first track is all that was good about Hard Rock in the 70’s this one has a lot of what wasn’t so good – ‘ah-ah’ backing vocals and lyrics like “I am standing, My breath is expanding”. Track 3, ‘Call Me’ is a winner though. A rolling melody, pleasant vocals by Mr Jonker, nice rhythm solo by Mr Gosens and a hook line that sticks in the head. ‘Pick up the Truck’ starts with a riff I’ve heard somewhere back in the early 80’s “The world is profound”, “You showed me the sound of sparkling water” – odd lyrics, quirky song, and a riff I can’t quite place…
Track 5 ‘Faces of Love’ is bass powered, and funky bass is a speciality of Ron Jonker so I would love to have heard a bass solo like he plays at Ana’s gigs during this one. There’s definitely a bit of ‘Another one bites the dust’ in here and the wah wah charged solo by Gosens isn’t bad either. I like it.
‘Voices’ is another great Rock riff with RJ’s vocal just on the right side of shouting. Credit too on this one for gutsy drumming from Dennis Elderman. Next track ‘Friend’ has a nice choppy rhythm. Not so keen on it lyrically though. “We’ll be grooving again” Do people use words like grooving now? There is a nice Pink Floydy sort of interlude though and an even nicer guitar swirling around in there.
‘Taking it all for granted’ and ‘Let You Go’ could be Toto. Very AOR but with an urgent pace courtesy of Jonkers bass and Eldermans drum that punches them along nicely. The track ‘Your worst nightmare’ nods very heavily in the direction of John Mayer and, Whilst Allard Gosens isn’t Mayer vocally, he does produce a super solo on this track – underpinned by Roni Jonkers solid bassline. No idea what it’s all about lyrically, but musically a high point.
Last track ‘Rush’ has the trademark urgent pace of much of this disc and easily the best lyrics in front of a glorious chugging rhythm. “Catching up while travelling home, I ain’t got the time to eat”. Yep, I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt. My favourite track.
So there you have it. ‘Fried Air’ might not turn out to be your favourite CD of 2011 by any means, but it is one you will enjoy playing long after CD’s by more high profile ‘stars’ have been forgotten. Hopefully we won’t have another two year wait for the follow up.