It's been a long time since we heard any new music from Michael Des Barres, which is a shame because as far as I'm concerned, he's something of a purveyor of quality. The ex-Silverhead vocalist fronted 70s rockers Detective, their first album remaining one of my favourites. Other highlights included Chequered Past, fronting the Power Station and issuing a great solo album after that, called 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'. Somebody writing this review likes him too, so I'm delighted that Michael is back with some brand new stuff.
Des Barres hardly stayed idle since 'Somebody Up There...' was released in 1986. He enjoyed an acting career with as many, if not more, high points on his resumé than his musical one, as well as staying active on the live scene with various bands, including his soul group The Free Love Foundation. A new album was something I'd been gasping for and finally, 'Carnaby Street' has arrived to slake my thirst.
Channelling the likes of Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart, Des Barres has created a superb classic rock album, forged from the furnaces started by bands like Humble Pie, Free, The Faces, The Rolling Stones... it's a glorious celebration of British rock, done authentically by a man who has been successful in the genre for decades and who was there when it all started. 'You're My Pain Killer' is a bluesy masterpiece of an opening, with Michael's vocal rasp in top form, setting you up nicely for the rollicking feel good fun of the title track. Here, Michael's lyrics transport you back to to the glory days when bands made magic in studios in a matter of days and the songs endured for lifetimes. He's taken the same approach, honing the tracks live on stage with his band of hand picked players and then cutting them in a studio in a week. The album has very few overdubs and as a result, offers a warmth and authenticity so often lacking in the digital age.
The heart wrenching sentiment of 'Please Stay', the driving rock of 'Route 69', the superb 'Little Latin Lover' - the whole album just oozes class. It may have been a long, long wait for a new record, but 'Carnaby Street' is more than worth it. There's a limited edition version which comes with a DVD featuring a whole assortment of items like the Power Station at Live Aid, interviews, videos of live performances, some vintage Silverhead footage and more. Whichever version you buy, it's good value, and you should buy it. This is a masterclass in Classic Rock, the way it used to be!
James Gaden - Fireworks Magazine