Chris Spedding – Joyland (Rating 4 out of 5)

joylandWith Joyland, Chris Spedding has further established himself as one of the few guitar heroes of the punk era to step out from  under his quif topped lid to cement himself as a much sought after session player and an eclectic solo artist in his own right.

Now, with Joyland,the 70-year-old Spedding has released his first record in six years, and this one is one of his best.  Starting with the opener on the title track where Deadwood resident Ian McShane does a Vincent Price like spoken-word narrative turn, the atmosphere of the album is set against a spooky-noir backdrop that seems to creep throughout most of the tracks here. “Now You See It” is an up-tempo rocker of a tune that celebrates the patented Spedding yell-snarl that falls somewhere between Billy Idol and Bon Scott. This one is one hell of a driving song as is “Cafe Racer” a beauty of a surf guitar instrumental that would have fit in perfectly on any ventures album.

Robert Gordon, one of his frequent collaborators, shows up with a vocal turn on the more than excellent “I Still Love You.” This R&B and soul influenced number is a bit out-of-place and seems a bit noir-blocking, but standing on its own, it is one hell of a song.

“Heisenberg,” the spaghetti western tinged instrumental with The Smiths Johnny Marr adding guitar support is a brilliant, all be it head scratching, number that probably would have been better served as an album closer. It would have been perfectly complemented with the actual final track on the album “Boom Shakka Boom,” a song that would have been a perfect fit on an episode of Trueblood.