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Honey West: Bad Old World

Instantly recognisable as one of the founders of both King Crimson and Foreigner, multi-instrumentalist and song writer Ian McDonald has more often than not spent much of his time in the background. He's long been a go to guy, a fixer – the press release for this album calls him the 'special sauce', but that's not for me to say – his touch influencing releases by everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Nash The Slash to April Wine and, ehhh…. Kanye West (we can forgive him that though, can't we?). In fact a hugely – and I do mean HUGELY – underrated solo album, in the shape of 1985's Driver's Eyes – aside, McDonald hasn't really stepped back into the limelight since those Crimson-Foreigner days. However, impressed by the clever word play of Shakespearean actor Ted Zurkowski of The Actors Studio fame, the man of many talents has become a member of Honey West alongside his son, Maxwell, on bass and drummer Steve Holley (Paul McCartney and Wings) – while Graham Maby (They Might Be Giants) joins in on bass on numerous tracks. Zurkowski also handles vocals, while McDonald, as he does, turns his hand to sax, guitar, keyboards and whatever else takes his fancy.

If you've heard Driver's Eyes then what you'll find on the Honey West debut, Bad Old World, won't come as too much of a shock, a mix of AOR and gentle prog riding a strong rock n' roll heart and Zurkowski's wry overview of every day life. Self deprecating, yet never flippant, it's clear to see why McDonald was so taken by the musings of his writing partner, the sideways glances the likes of "Dementia" and the title track provide, sharp enough to make you smile and shake your head simultaneously. Whereas for those of us who've been waiting way too long for an album bearing McDonald's unmistakable touch, the music is a pure joy. Just dial in to the Tom Petty meets Roy Orbison of "Bad Old World", the shuffle and shake of "The September Issue" or the jaunty jangle of "Sylvia Strange" to become bewitched by the beauty of his crafted and cared for creations. However, with "Generation Man" urgent and forceful, "California" as feel-good and shimmering as its title suggests (well, musically anyway!) and "Old Man" and its Travelling Wilbury's like silken stomp being utterly captivating, everywhere you turn there's something to soak in and smile. Although it might be the call and rock n' roll response of "Dementia" which leaves the longest, lasting mark through McDonald's powering and majestic saxophone.

While there's a huge amount of music knocking about these days to get excited about or be impressed by, it's quite a while since I heard an album that's as unashamedly good fun as Bad Old World is proud to be. That it does so without ever compromising its classy compositions, or cynical, yet thoroughly believable view of the world, proves that if there's one thing you can't hide, it's class. Honey West have it by the barrow full.

Track Listing
1. The September issue
2. Brand New Car
3. Bad Old World
4. She's Not Your Life
5. Sylvia Strange
6. Generationless Man
7. California
8. Sailing
9. A Girl Called Life
10. Old Man
11. Terry & Julie
12. Dementia

Added: May 7th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Honey West online
Hits: 1978
Language: english

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