Canadian rockers Coney Hatch released three albums in the early to mid-80's and made an impact with songs such as `Devils Deck' and by supporting a number of major acts, including Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Cheap Trick.
But their career was relatively short-lived and, if truth be told, they were always in the shadow of fellow Canadians April Wine. The latter's longevity, quality of output and peak successes in the late 70's and early 80's somewhat eclipsed Coney Hatch, who swam in the same rock and roll waters.
A Greatest Hits package in 1992 and a final appearance (of the original line-up) in 1993 was all that was heard from Coney Hatch until a decade and a half later when vocalist and guitarist Carl Dixon (who played with April Wine from 2001 to 2004) made the news for all the wrong reasons - in 2008 he was involved in a near-fatal car crash in Australia.
With Carl Dixon in an induced coma, his ex band mates phoned in words of encouragement while Dixon's wife held the phone to his ear. Bassist/ vocalist Andy Curran remembers telling Dixon he would have to recover because Coney Hatch weren't finished yet; while Curran didn't honestly think the band would ever perform together again, his words turned out to be prophetic.
In one of the truly great and genuine "survival" stories of rock and roll, Carl Dixon made a remarkable recovery from his serious injuries and in 2010 joined Andy Curran, Steve Shelski (guitars) and Dave Ketchum (drums) for a reunion show in Hamilton, Ontario. The following year the band played their first ever UK gig at Firefest.
Unsurprisingly a new album followed, but what is a surprise - and a very welcome one - is Coney Hatch left a lot of the "of the era" 80's rock clichés at the studio door and brought a whole lot of attitude to Four. More importantly Coney Hatch, twenty-eight years on from their last studio release, have delivered not just their best album to date but a great slice of feisty, punchy, guitar-driven rock and roll.
Four is distinctly Coney Hatch, but right from the opening big-beats and no-nonsense approach of `Blown Away' (with a chunky power-pop chorus) and the grittier `Boys Club,' it's clear the 21st century version of Coney Hatch is just that.
The throwaway but fun rock and roll of `Down & Dirty' is a great fit for the vibe and energy of the album before it's back to the brash and ballsy, courtesy of the mid-tempo rocker `Do it Again.'
'Connected' carries a swagger with a shout-it-out "I'm ok! You're all right!" chorus that recalls Cheap Trick's `Surrender' while `We Want More' carries an indie-rock vibe that reinforces the fact Coney Hatch are very much in the now and not then.
`Revive,' which reminds this listener of Jackson Browne with his guitar turned up a notch, is a nice change of pace and would be a great fit for rock radio or while driving down the coastal highways of life. The lighter 'Holdin' On' closes out the eleven track album in fine, melodic style.
Coney Hatch might sound more like a medical condition (and it may well be for all I know), but on Four Coney Hatch sound like the perfect rock and roll antidote to the musical vapidity that currently infects pop culture.
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