“You need to get into some new bands, man,” said my buddy T-Rev.
Trevor had a point. Most of my collection was rooted in the 70s and 80s. New bands weren’t appealing to me, one or two excepted. But I did hear this new band on the radio (Q107) called Big Wreck that I didn’t mind. “Like a bluesy Soundgarden with a hint of Rush” said the DJ. Their first single “The Oaf” was pretty awesome.
“I found a new band I liked,” I told Trevor. “Big Wreck.”
“Hahaha, oh man. You found a new band and they suck!” he retorted. Trevor was really into Brit-pop and probably hoped I would have discovered the Bluetones or Supergrass. Alas, it wasn’t to be this time. I bought the Big Wreck album In Loving Memory Of…, and I liked it enough to get the 20th Anniversary Special Edition two decades later.
Big Wreck were a little bit of a throwback. Their use of blues was different from the post-grunge bands they were competing with, and that’s what initially appealed to me. And yes, Ian Thornley could be compared to Chris Cornell in terms of singing power.
The album boasted a number of immediate standouts. “The Oaf” was the tough introduction, but “That Song” followed it with something immediately accessible. “Look What I Found” takes a trip to the levee, emulating a Zeppelin stomp through the production of 1997.
There’s a balance of heavy/light here, that skews too much on the light side. Fortunately the two CD bonus tracks put the scales back on the heavy side. The only real weakness to In Loving Memory Of… is a reliance on slow songs within the bulk of the album. Some of the quiet songs are incredible. “Under the Lighthouse” (a single in Canada only) has atmosphere out the wazoo. Echoes of heartbreak are smeared through “Blown Wide Open”, another single.
If I had to put my money on it, I’d say “Under the Lighthouse” is the best song on the disc, ballad or not.
In Loving Memory Of… is most enjoyable when jaunting through bluesy rock guitars. The musicianship is always exceptional. “How Would You Know”, “Fall Through the Cracks”, “Overemphasising” and “Between You and I” are comfortably in rocky framework, with outstanding lead work. The album does run a bit long, though. In 1997, the full length value of a CD was being utilised more than today, now that bands realise less is often more. The original 13 tracks ran an hour long, which is probably 15 minutes too long.
Yet the two additional bonus tracks are excellent. Both speed along at a good clip. The bright “Ill Advice” is more upbeat than most of the album, save “That Song”. “Still Holding” has punch. The album would have been stronger for their inclusion if they had been there all along, despite its length!
Fixin’ for a shot of 90s nostalgia? The Big Wreck anniversary edition might be what you needed. The band are playing the whole album in sequence on their current tour, so you may as well become re-acquainted.