I thought I had my life in order, that I was leading The Simple Life. Then, one day, I got an Early Morning Call, from Sonia, at the other side of the globe. She wanted to know, whether I was interested in a review copy of the new Corvus Stone album. So, I replied, what makes you think my Boots for Hire? Her reply was very simple, yet artful and musical: she send me a sample of some artwork and music, giving me a Sneaky Entrance into Lisa.
So, I agreed and in a short while the CD was in the mail. I embarked in my favourite motorised vessel, the Purple Stone and sped down the highway, while playing the music out loud. After a while, I stopped at a bar called A Stoned Crow Meets Rusty Wolff, where Rusty is indeed the bar tender. It’s a nice, Texan style saloon that let’s people be themselves. Even Lisa has a cigar there, every once in a while, in between her dates with Mr. Cha Cha, who lives in the Dark Tower. After a few drinks, some food and a good night sleep, I continued down the road, and across the border. Shortly after that, I picked up a few hitchhiking Swedes and Finns, Scandinavians in Mexico, on their way to a party. When we got there, we were received by a Mystery Man with a hump on his back - apparently suffering from a disease called Camelus Bactrianus. He welcomed us to the party, which was organised by the crazy jazz drummer Unkle Chunkle, the composer of the beautiful, philosphical track Eternal Universe. He guarded the door while I spent the night, or rather, just over 14 minutes with Moaning Lisa - rest assured, only to hear her life’s story. I then accompanied her to the Campfire, where we sang songs in Finnish with all 13 Corvus Stone members until we all fell asleep…. only to be woken up by another Early Morning Call.
That is one of the many fun and musical stories I heard in Corvus Stone’s 2nd album. Just like their debut, an album that contains a mix of many different musical styles, all wrapped in a progressive rock packaging - one way or another. The Simple Life for example, or Early Morning Call are material that could fit a modern release of any of the classic prog albums of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s - just imagine the two combined featuring as opening track on Days of Future Passed.
With Boots for Hire, Stoned Crow meets Rusty Wolff, Purple Stone and Mr Cha Cha, we find ourselves in guitar rock land once again, but with so many things going on that you hear something new every time you listen (although the Deep Purple sample was obvious from the start, meh). Neither of the four resembles the other, so take a few rides to really enjoy everything, would be my advice.
The drums and bass on the album are magnificent, which is pretty much laid bare in Uncle Chunkle, where the guitars play second string for a change. Master piece of the album, however, is the epic Moaning Lisa, with its two short preludes Sneaky Entrance and Lisa has a Cigar. Richie Blackmore can eat is heart out, because this is how you can make Renaissance music into progressive rock. The beginning takes us back to 17th century music, evolving into a clean 21st century electric guitar piece.
Each in its own way, every track has something to add to the album, none of them is unnecessary.
And all of them are created by a band that loves music as much as having fun and pulling the occasional joke. The video for Scandinavians in Mexico as well as the track itself make that very clear. A latin piece, but with so many layers of instruments that it depends completely on your mood and position relative to your speakers what you hear (or at least, that is the best way I can explain this track), a track so hot that only Mexican hot peppers still dance to it.
That video is a great job by Sonia Mota, who also took care of the art work for the CD and booklet, with as many things to discover as the music - and all images are real paintings, not computer images. I’m still looking for Lisa’s cigar though - can’t seem to find it in the booklet.
Colin Tench, as the force behind it all, shows what practising guitar since the 1980’s can do, on top of the foundation laid by the bass and drums of Petri Lindström and Robert Wolff. What space is left is filled nicely by Paisi Koivu on the keyboards, with a fine list of guest musicians (mainly great singers) taking care of their part where necessary.
In relation to the latter, I have to add that I admire the band for creating two consecutive albums without ever having been in all in the same place at the same time.
To make this long story short: I’m a fan since the first album, now I only want to hear more….