The last French rock band to catch my ears was Shakin’ Street in the late 70’s. It’s been a while then, but here are Rosedale to get me musically excited by a band from Francaise once again. A band also led by a fiery young lady on vocals it should be noted. Their second disc ‘Wide Awake’ is just out, and its excellence makes me hope that the band will be coming Bonn’s way next year.
There are a number of reasons that Rosedale came to my attention this year. The tastefully eyecatching cover of their new CD ‘Wide Awake’ was shot by one of my favourite local photographers Tony Joe Gardner for one. There’s a guest appearance by German guitar hero Henrik Freischlader for seconds. Last, but certainly not least, is the dependable presence on drums of original Ana Popovic sticksman Denis Palatin (back in the day when they were a trio, with fellow Frenchman Fabrice Ach on bass). In short, a lot of people I respect have put their names to this band. Quite rightly too as the disc reveals. With Amandyn Roses’ strong vocals and Charlie Fabert’s crystal clear guitar phrasing, Rosedale could well be the band to put French Blues Rock firmly on the map.
To make sure you actually are wide awake, this disc kicks off with the drum-driven ‘Racing at the wheel’, and a chunky guitar solo from Charlie Fabert plus irresistible riff make me think this would have gone down a storm on Top of The Pops or MTV. The rhythm is more gentle on ‘Dance with the Devil’ and there’s some nice musical texture coming in from Johan Dalgaard on Hammond Organ. The punchy Hammond and guitar extend on into ‘The sun won’t rise today’ before the first ‘big ballad’ of the disc – ‘Fireplace’ truly is hot stuff (no apology for the pun!) especially when Fabert’s guitar comes into the mix. Again, there’s an old-fashioned feeling that this is a vinyl disc in the shape of track five, ‘Down the Line’, that sees co-writer Paul Cox swapping lead vocals with Amandyn to great effect before once again Fabert’s guitar solo adds the melodic icing to a delicious musical cake. On one of those old vinyl records the closer on side one would be be aimed at getting the listener to turn the record over and continue. At this point, I would certainly be keenly flipping the disc over on my old Dansette, anxious to hear if side one can match its illustrious predecessor.
Not to be confused with the Robert Cray song, ‘Smoking Gun’ lopes along enjoyably enough, but track two (on my imaginary vinyl 12 incher) really gets us back on track musically with a choppy beat and some excellent vocals by Amandyn. A good time to mention that the lady’s inspirations include Beth Hart and Etta James, both of whom are in the mix of her vocal phrasing – and how can a mix of Hart and James be anything other than magical?!
‘Drifting’ is smoothly executed blues-rock with excellent guitar again, but that shouldn’t be surprising since Henrik Freischlader gets to jam on this one. Well, actually, the booklet refers to Henrik as ‘The Mythical German Blues guitarist’. I can assure you, ladies and gentlemen, having interviewed the Man a couple of times now, he definitely does exist! But quite why he’s needed when Charlie Fabert can get the same sound out of his Cort CR-Custom as Henrik (and indeed Gary Moore) does/did on their respective Les Pauls, I’m rather non-plussed. Put it down perhaps to a bit of PR to get the band some respect in new territory (Germany) where they are likely to be touring hopefully very soon.
My favorite track of all here is ‘Troublemaker’, with a punchy tune and, best of all, a terrific mini-duel between Fabert’s guitar and the harmonica of Patrick Hannak. I hope when they go out on tour that Mr Hannak is along too for this one. ‘The Kind of Man you Are’ is a classy Rock ballad that again gives Amandyn’s voice a chance to shine, and Charlie Fabert’s guitar here shows why the addition of Mr Freischlader earlier was really superfluous from a musical perspective, with a stunning ‘Still got the Blues’ style solo that threatens to break free of the speaker cabinet and take flight to heaven.
All in all then, a classy offering that tells me I might have missed a few excellent French bands between my discovery of Shakin’ Street in the 70’s and Rosedale in 2018. If, like me, you haven’t really delved too deeply into French Rock music, then I can recommend Rosedale, with Amandyn’s strong vocals and Charlie’s refreshingly clean-cut soloing, as a perfect place to start. Harmonie Bonn take note – if they’re good enough for the ‘mythical’ Mr Freischlader, they’re good enough for Endenich.