Tora Tora are back for another surprise attack with the new album – Bastards Of Beale

Tora Tora
Anthony Corder--Vocals Keith Douglas--Guitar Patrick Francis--Bass John Patterson--Drums

By: Larry Toering

Tora Tora are back for another surprise attack with the new album – Bastards Of Beale – marking a new era for an 80s hard rock band from Memphis who’ve proven to have lost nothing. Their classic sound remains so in-tact it’s like they picked up right where they left off with albums like Wild America and some odds and ends in-between. This has all been a culmination of getting back in order after some successful shows to mark the 20th anniversary of their first record deal. It’s only natural that the fans would be waiting, as I have myself, and very patiently since finding out about Frontiers approaching them to record a new proper release.

 

This band kicked a lot of ass throughout the late 80s/early 90s, making mincemeat out of most, and I saw them a couple of times so I can vouch for what a killer live band they are as well. They even made my night once before meeting Metallica at a show of theirs, if that isn’t a reason to stand up for this band over and above the average fan. It makes me hard to please and keeps my expectations high, but I’m glad to say they delivered and then some. This album is absolutely fantastic and contains no filler to speak of. Anthony Corder and CO really know how to sound like themselves all these years later and still add something fresh to the table.

“Sons Of Zebedee” kicks things off on a solid note without revealing what awaits inside, as a matter of selection being what it is, they chose the proper track to open with by leaving you guessing a little. But “Giants Fall” starts to get the ball rolling in a classic direction to contrast the more modern opener, with flashes of bigger sounding moments that remind of the past. And while both tracks do please, it’s not until “Everbright” that things really kick into gear and don’t look back till the final notes which leave you battered and begging for more. It’s that good, just be a good trooper and get your hands on it and you’ll be enormously satisfied.

“Silence The Sirens” is the second single and definitely one of the best numbers on the album, but mostly for its accessibility and current subject matter. Someone described this song as a cross between Tora Tora and a 90s band the Gin Blossoms (as John Gertson pointed out), and it somehow rings true after trying to nail it myself. Once again, it’s a well-chosen track for its purpose and sits somewhere in the middle of the album’s best songs. There’s also nothing like the streets of Memphis, especially where Beale St meets “Riverside Drive”(a song by Tora Tora as well), and this album takes me back there to the bright lights of the Mississippi river banks.

And this is where things get interesting in the same sense as classic Tora Tora tracks like “Walking Shoes” and “Phantom Rider,” with “Son Of A Prodigal Son” being the album’s magnum opus. Complete with acoustics and all the bells and whistles this band is good for, including Anthony Corder’s signature vocal sound which has been compared to the likes of Dave King (Fastway) and Robert Plant. It has that Memphis aura to it that only this band seemed to ever really possess out of the rock climate there. Followed by the sublime “Lights Up The River,” this is the absolute peak of the disc.

“Let Us Be One” and “All Good Things” keep the shuffle grooving with two very solid pieces to help showcase their uber-talents, especially in the vocal department. But the guitar comes alive throughout most of the album with “Rose Of Jericho” being the first single, and what a monster it is, easily contending with the two mid-album tracks and ultimately taking it over the top with another outstanding shuffle. Talk about contagious and talk about delivering to the patiently waiting fans who’ve always been there.

But if that isn’t enough, the band completely surprise on an instrumental out of left field with “Vertigo” being the tough as nails- a scorching sleeper of the disc. Out of nowhere, Keith Douglas shows where his shops have been all these years with a track that competes with all the virtuosos of the day, and an edgy guitar sound that compliments Tora Tora’s classic sound without taking anything away from it, but rather adding an incendiary vibe to their music which most people wouldn’t think was in them. This band has exceeded all expectations and come up with as good an album as any in their catalog, and “Bastards Of Beale” itself tells the story on the way out.

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