John Calabrese

REVIEW: Danko Jones – Power Trio (2021)

DANKO JONES – Power Trio (2021 Sonic Unyon)

Let me tell you something’ people.  Danko Jones?  He’s the real deal and he’s back with Power Trio, an absolutely smokin’ new album heavy on the riffs and attitude.

Something about this pandemic has been driving our favourite artists to create some of their best work.  From Lee Aaron to Styx and Iron Maiden, we’ve been getting a lot of seriously great albums this summer.  Danko Jones joins their ranks with 11 of his best tunes to date.

“I Want Out” is relentless hammering with nothin’ but pure soulful metal aggression.  He gets a little sly on “Good Lookin'” before the pounding of the mighty axe resumes.  Great guitar and vocal hooks.  “Saturday” brings the party with no less adrenaline or acceleration.  Let’s use that word “relentless” again.  Power Trio is an album with the emphasis on power.  The band take it down to a mid-tempo slammer on “Ship of Lies”.  “Everybody knows it’s getting old, let’s sink this ship of lies.”  Amen, brother!  Great jagged riff, chunky tone.

Potential album highlight “Raise Some Hell” sounds like an anthem for bands sidelined by the pandemic.  “I’m tired of watchin’ it go by, sittin’ in the fence,” sings Jones as he looks forward to getting back out there for some rockin’.  “‘Cause sooner or later we’re gonna break the spell.”

“Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit” has the best title on the record, but does this thing ever move!  The riff is like an engine.  The guitars on “Get To You” take on a more traditional metallic tone, though the song maintains the Power Trio drive.  “Don’t you let them get to you,” preaches the man; someone who knows.  “Jealousy don’t look good on ’em,” he roars.  “Take it as a backhand compliment, every time they take the shots.  Every sling that gets thrown at you only serves to drive up your stock.”  Wise words my man.  Just as Dee Snider took on bullies in the 80s, Danko is here to continue the work in the 2020s.

“Dangerous Kiss” has bite, as it clocks in as the shortest bomber on the album.  Second shortest is “Let’s Rock Together”, a real upbeat corker of a stomp.  Like classic Andrew W.K. but with a guy who can really sing.  The screamin’ “Flaunt It” turns up the tempo even faster, taking it to punk rock velocity.  This serves to set up the optimistic AC/DC-like closer “Start the Show”.  Yes, let’s!  Special guest Phil Campbell on guitar.

There have been several albums this year that were deemed to be the records we needed in 2021.  Add another worthy contender to the list.  Power Trio is another in a long line of consistently good Danko Jones.  The biggest difference is that we need Danko more than ever now.

4.5/5 stars

Power trio:  Danko Jones, Rich Knox, John Calabrese.


BONUS ==>  Misheard Lyrics

“I’m tired of watching it go by sittin’ on the fence,” totally sounds like “I’m tired of watching Nickelback sittin’ on the fence”!

REVIEW: Danko Jones – Born a Lion (2002)

THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER

My very first THREE-WAY (review)!  For today’s installment, Aaron AND James from the KMA and I are all reviewing the same disc.  Check out all three reviews!

Aaron:  DANKO JONES – Born a Lion
James:  DANKO JONES – Born a Lion

DANKO_0001DANKO JONES – Born a Lion (2002 Universal)

How fucking cool is Danko Jones?!  I love this Torontonian rock idol, just as much as Danko himself loves the Rock.  His enthusiasm for hard rock and heavy metal is contagious.  His music basks in it.  You can hear his passion for the Rock in the grooves.  He’s incredibly prolific, and monumentally talented as a writer, singer, and guitar player.  The band itself (also called Danko Jones) is just a trio, so he has a lot of bases to cover and he does it with aplomb out the wazoo.

I don’t own all the Danko records (and I don’t know anybody who does) but of the ones I have, the debut long-player Born a Lion is still my favourite.  It was a favourite back in the Record Store days too, receiving daily store play as a new release.  Joe “Big Nose” felt that Danko was as close as anybody had gotten to the vibe of Thin Lizzy since Phil Lynott.  I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that fully, but I see what he was getting at.

The swampy blues guitar that opens “Play the Blues” is just a feint.  This is a slamming, heavy rocking blaze.  “If you wanna know how to play the blues, get yourself a woman! YEAH!” howls Jones.  It’s an adrenaline shot to the heart, eyes ablaze as “Play the Blues” tears from the speakers.  “Pick it sweet! Slide it slow! WOO!” Jones unleashes a killer solo as you reach for your asthma inhaler!

If you’re not hooked by now, then you probably don’t like rock and roll.  “Lovercall” was the single, for which a killer video was made.  Getting into a groove this time, Jones instructs us on how to pick up a lady.

You see when I was growin’ up…
I got the inside scoop,
I used to watch all the older fellas work down the block,
that’s right when they used to work I used to watch,
and when I watched I learned…
The Lovercall, baby!

Danko Jones has a way of using his sassy spoken word verses to maximize the cool factor, before sliding into a chorus that you can sing along to. “Lovercall” is the best example of this.

So are you in or are you out?  That’s all Danko needs to know on “Sound of Love”.  Not as mindblowing as the first two, it’s still a swaggering confident rock song based on a solid groove.  “Every time you see her, she’ll get a little hotter,” whispers Jones, and you certainly believe him because he sure does sound like an expert in such matters.  “Now where the pretty girls at? ‘Cause I’m the man with the black hat.”  There you go.  Free advice from Danko – black hats are in, but he says it with so much swagger that you have to believe there are some serious mysteries of the universe opening up before us!

“Papa” is the song from which the title Born a Lion was derived.  “I was born a lion, and like a cat I’m gonna dance.”  Sure, Jones has only one thing on his mind, but who gives a fuck?  I ain’t leaving now; I’m sticking around for the Rock.  “Soul on Ice” has a mean AC/DC prowl that could have fit on an album such as Black Ice.

DANKO_0002“Word is Bond” is dynamite up the ass with no fuse!  The energy is unbelievable, and Danko’s swagger is always intact.  When he says “If you want it, I will do it — my word is my bond!” I believe him.  This is another AC/DC rocker, and it absolutely tears up the joint, leaving nothing but rubble and ashes.   But Danko Jones will survive like a cockroach and live on to meet more ladies, as he does on “Way to My Heart”.  Don’t let the title fool you, this ain’t no Warrant or Whitesnake ballad.  Nope, it’s all rock and groove and balls.  “Let’s go on the side of the road, I can be your Romeo.”  There’s no romance here, it’s sheer lust.

Racial diversity is the theme on “Caramel City”, the first time Danko’s not singing about girls on this record.  It’s kind of a weird chorus (spelling out the word “C-A-R-A-M-E-L”) but it’s good enough for me.  “Get Outta Town” is more fun, another blazing fast rock groove.  It’s infectious, but I don’t believe him when he sings, “All the girls got boyfriends, but man I don’t got a girl.”  Sorry Jones.  I’m not buying it.

More ass-kicking transpires via the speakers on the chugging “Suicide Woman”.  How much more ass-kicking?  A lot, as “Suicide Woman” follows the general template of smoking from start to finish.  Danko keeps the guitar solo to the basics because let’s face it, we just wanna rock at this point.  Concluding the proceedings is the incredible “Love is Unkind”, quite possibly the most smoking-est track on the record.

Let’s be blunt.  Danko Jones’ schtick can wear thin, but the album isn’t long. You either like this band or you don’t.  I like this band.  And I love Born a Lion.

5/5 stars

Final note — some editions have two bonus tracks.  I intend to find them.

Final final note — my copy came with a Danko Jones sticker that I still have.  I wonder if Aaron and James have theirs?

Monday: QUIET RIOT – Metal Health