Finally one of the best-kept secrets of mid-70's rock---not punk mind you---but good old rock is available on CD. Since getting this just-released and remastered Downtown Flyers, I can't stop listening to the CD. Streetwalkers set sail right after Family threw in the towel, but long-time bandmates and songsmiths Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney decided to team up for a new venture. Along with Bob Tench, a superb guitarist and vocalist who was banished from the Jeff Beck group for being more talented than the band leader, and Nicko McBain (who would later gain more fame as the drummer for Iron Maiden) and bassist Jon Plotel, Chapman and Whitney crafted two gems, Red Card and Downtown Flyers, plus several other very good recordings.
The band sparkles throughout this session. The title track will quickly transport you back to the mid-70s, with its somewhat cheesy voice box that harkens to Peter Frampton. I think, however, it may be the weakest track. Toenail Draggin', Raingame, Crawfish, and Walking on Waters all showcase the power of the band, and show that it was more than just power but the work of an ensemble. Chapman is in fine form throughout, growling and rumbling at times, but never out of control. The twin guitars of Whitney and Tench meld seamlessly. Both deliver the goods without getting into any sort of musical melee; moreover, each plays to his own strengths with Tench torching the session with some great bluesy rifts and Whitney showcasing a touch on the slide guitar that will surprise many. Tench also provides some great, soulful second vocals that mesh surprisingly well with Chappo's unique delivery. The quite cuts such as Miller and Gypsy Moon recall the gentleness of Family classics such as My Friend the Sun and Children.
But the tour de force here is the nine-minute epic Burn It Down, as fine a song as any to emerge from the last half of the `70s. The crisp, clean guitar work, solid rhythm section, sparkling keyboards, and stellar vocals meld into a smoldering anthem depicting the frustration and rage of the working poor, tapping into the same primal energy that ironically fueled the rise of punk, which drove the final stake through the heart of Streetwalkers.
Updated liner notes are a bonus, especially because Charlie Whitney is showcased. His views about Streetwalkers rise and fall are candid and insightful. I would recommend this CD for those new to Streetwalkers; I'm sure die-hard fans of Streetwalkers, Family, Roger Chapman, and Charlie Whitney do not need my recommendation because getting the CD is a no-brainer.