7/10 Mike Staff review, 25 April 2014
Here's album number two in my "live album corner" for this week, 'Live Rain' by Howlin Rain. It's strident Americana-rawk from the Blueshammer school of subtlety, the vocal affectations are getting on my nerves quite quickly. The gatefold has loads of photos so you can look at the beardy man shouting at the microphone and close your eyes and imagine you can smell the sweat and stale beer.
Essentially they're peddling a turbocharged classic rock approach to blues rock. It's dramatic, it's chunky, the lead guitar does always sound quite crisp and aggressive and I'm enjoying the solos and the Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque dual guitar action, but I'm personally finding the vocals a bit hard to stomach, he sounds like John Garcia from Kyuss auditioning to join Free or something. If that swaggering classic hard rock sound is your bag, while this does have some good solid riffs and a nice big sound you should probably start with their studio albums. If you're already a fan then this is a sweaty and well-recorded collection of '70s-sounding rock-outs that'll tide you over until they've got another studio album ready.
9/10 Andy Thomas Customer review, 18th May 2014
Live Rain. A concept I have been looking forward to after avidly lapping up there releases to date. The inclusion in the package of five 1960's San Franscisco style gig posters only enhances the concept that this band is an updated version of the Dead/ Allman Brothers or Airplane. However, if comparisons are your thing I'd suggest Cipollina era Quicksilver Messenger Service or closer to home our own legendary Man Band. The special x factor that has made Howlin Rain stand out amongst the plethora of space rock/Jam bands in today's market place is that they abide with the formula that made the above mentioned bands popular. Namely having a powerful tight as a nat's chuff rhythm section that drives every song and provides the rock and often the funk basis for the groups guitarists to spark off each other. Also, not forgetting some top notch tunes that stay in the back of your head for years. As an example listen to the track Lord Have Mercy, it stays in the head for eon's. The album kicks off with Phantom in The Valley from their latest LP. However, to my ears the opening on this version is too reminiscent of the popular cabaret singer Robbie Williams track Let Me Entertain You, to not raise a smirk whilst listening. After the opening track we get straight to business with A Self Made Man. A great song made even better by the superb guitar interplay and driving beat. With eyes closed you could be in the Roundhouse circa 1975 listening to Messrs Jones and Leonard of the Man Band. The album fairly shoots along with great songs enlivened with great jams. For the most part the vocals are superfluous and just add some colour and distraction to the great guitar, organ and percussion interplay. This is the sound of a band on top form and delivering what they do best. A live tour de force.
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- Live Rain by Howlin Rain
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