REVIEW: Hot Leg – Red Light Fever (2009)

HOT LEG FRONT

HOT LEG – Red Light Fever (2009 Barbecue Rock Records)

It was a dark time for rock and roll.  The Darkness had split into two factions:  The Stone Gods, and Justin Hawkins’ Hot Leg.  The Gods were out of the gates with their album first in 2008, while Justin followed in 2009 with Red Light Fever.  Bizarrely, he credits himself as Justin “Dave” Hawkins in Hot Leg.

The Stone Gods made an excellent album, concentrating on rock and metal sounds.  Justin, on the other hand, has synthesized everything he does into one gestalt on Red Light Fever. There are still those cherished AC/DC-like moments that you may remember from Permission To Land (Hawkins even uses the lyric “permission to land” on one song) mixed with those operatic high vocals, taken to new levels of absurdity (“Chickens”). This is mixed with the polished Queen-like moments from the second Darkness album, One Way Ticket…, and the 80’s “keytar” sounds of his solo project British Whale. The result is, quite frankly, an album only Darkness fans will like.

I am a Darkness fan, and I do like it. The album kicks off with the aforementioned “Chickens”, which at first tricks you into thinking Hawkins has gone back to basics. Then the operatic chorus in full falsetto hits, and you realize that Hawkins is just as outrageous as ever.

“You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore”, the second track, reminds you that Hawkins is still one hell of a guitar player. Coming up right down the middle between Thin Lizzy and Brian May harmonies, it is Justin’s guitar work that keeps this band most anchored in rock.  The aptly titled “Trojan Guitar” is a cool workout, multi-faceted and complex.

By the time you get to the single, “Cocktails”, you will wonder just how Hawkins crammed so many notes into a word with just two syllables. Many will find this to be simply too much, like coffee with too much sweetener, or a cake with nothing but icing.  It’s a great song, with that Def Darkness vibe that I like so much, but the chorus is ridiculous!

“Gay in the 80s” is the most British Whale of the tracks, keytar up front and in your face, and Justin’s lyrics embracing the kitsch of that decade. Not a track for insecure rockers by any stretch.  Yet “Whichever Way You Wanna Give It” is the most reminiscent of early Darkness. It has that “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” vibe, with a chorus straight out of One Way Ticket…, and some solid guitar riffs with ample space between the power chords.

TAKE TAKE TAKEThe album ends a mere 35 minutes after it began, which some will find absolutely offensive after spending close to $30 (Canadian) on this import. However, if you wanted more, the band used to offer a vintage-Darkness sounding bonus track called “Take Take Take” on their website for free.  Unfortunately with the band now defunct, the song has been taken down.  Another free song, a bouncy upbeat number called “Heroes”, was available for a limited time only.

According to the inside notes, the album is to be filed under “Man-Rock”.

4/5 stars

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23 comments

  1. I have a review that I wrote of this one lying around somewhere. I wasn’t as positive as you, though. Musically ok, but Hawkins vocals gives me bad rashes and other unpleasant allergic reactions. Safe to say, I didn’t buy this one.
    But your review is excellent. :)

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  2. Mike,
    You get a like button because you were brave enough to use “gestalt” in a sentence. Great review with the right mix of cake and icing as always! Rock on!

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  3. I totally loved this album. Heard Trojan Guitar streaming online and got really excited about this coming out. I had a copy before the release date too cause a local shop put it out early! I also caught an early club gig before this was released which was fun but I didn’t know most the songs. They did, however, do a cover of Huey Lewis’ Power Of Love and then followed it with a cover of Jennifer Rush’s… Power Of Love(!) to the hilarious bafflement of all!

    Just realised I haven’t listened to this in ages so I will correct that ASAP!

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    1. That is just brilliant. I hope somebody bootlegged that.

      I believe I am well on record as being a Stone Gods fan. Having both bands really softened the blow during the breakup. My sister saw Justin Hawkins on Top Gear, or something (I’m pretty sure he’s been on Top Gear) and became an immediate fan. She loved the flamboyance and the willingness to be old-school with talent.

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        1. Only you could throw in a Geoff Tate reference so casually!

          I like Top Gear. My dad tells me Bruce Dickinson’s been on as well. Driving a tank? Or was that another show?

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        2. Rednecks in Alabama was the best Top Gear. They went to Alabama, and painted up each other’s cars. One guy’s car said “GAY SEX RULES OK”, one said “HILLARY FOR PRES” and one said “NASCAR IS RUBBISH”. They got chased out of town and had rocks hurled at them.

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  4. I only have the one Darkness CD, which you told me to buy, and I’m glad I did. It’s loads of fun. This is something I will have to look into… another one for the Taranna list?

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    1. I’d kick myself for paying $30 if you found it in Taranna. But more power to you if you do!

      No, I think instead we should hope for the second album (should be an easy score) and a handful of singles. I’m missing a couple singles still.

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  5. Finally scored a copy of this album for a reasonable price on EBay yesterday Mike. 20 dollars Aus. It seems very pricey any other time. Don’t mind me some Darkness flavoured music. Their recent live footage on YouTube is great.

    Liked by 1 person

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