REVIEW: Danko Jones – Born a Lion (2002)


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