What would at first appear to be strange bedfellows, Yorkshire’s Gentlemans Pistols‘ third album is the second to feature the co-founder of Carcass, guitarist Bill Steer, who leaves his extreme metal alter ego firmly at the door. Not the first member of Carcass to foray into paying homage to inveterate rock’s awe-inspiring beginnings (Michael Amott‘s Spiritual Beggars claim that title), Gentlemans Pistols demonstrate the still-alluring appeal of the classic rock sound. This they embrace wholeheartedly, but while other bands may hone in on one or two specific bands, the Gents‘ take on board a wide spectrum of groups spanning pretty much the whole of the 1970s and a touch of the early 1980s U.K. rock scene to boot.
So begins the album with two fine slabs of rock – ‘The Searcher’ opens with the power chords Pete Townsend is most credited with and is a fine blast of The Who at their most bombastic, long-haired rockiest. What comes apparent is their intention to attack your melodic senses and it doesn’t come much better than ‘Devil’s Advocate On Call’, an immensely catchy combination of Status Quo and UFO at their inspiring peak. This would have been a surefire hit back in the mid-seventies. ‘Time Wasters’ continues the solid gold rocking and has a touch of Montrose about it, and I dare you not be tempted to break out in some mini air-guitaring.
What can distract you from fully appreciating the album further is that it can become a bit like a who’s-who box-ticking exercise of classic rock bands of said period. There are nods to early Scorpions and Iron Maiden on ‘Personal Fantasy Wonderland’, and Wishbone Ash on the closing title track. While it mixes up the rockers with slower-tempo groovers, with the title track it takes you back and reminds you of a time before rock ballads became overproduced and over-bloated mega pop hits but instead were essential album tracks, more refined and demonstrated intricate folk rock-inspired playing.
“Hustler’s Row” may not be the album to defend the occasional criticism of the classic rock revival as merely regurgitating the pioneers – The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and Rival Sons are still the leading lights for that counterargument – because the minor criticism of the Gentlemans Pistols is that they lack their own distinctive identity, at the moment anyway. Despite this they have created a sound which will warm the cockles of old-school rockers and, like comfort food, it’s good for the soul.