Rich Hope – I’m All Yours
Planned Obsolescence Recording & Novelty Inc.
10 songs – 40 minutes
I’m All Yours is the fourth album from Vancouver blues-rocker, Rich Hope, and it’s an exhilarating slice of primal blues-rock. The black and white cover of the CD depicts guitarist-singer Hope in a classic rock pose: legs akimbo, hair greased back, laying into his Les Paul guitar, looking like a misplaced member of the Clash. And the opening track on the album, “It Come Alive”, is a riff-driven rock song that suggests there may not be too much blues on display. In fact, although there is a lot of rock on the album, I’m All Yours is a steamy gumbo of rock, blues, soul and pop. It is also played with such verve, abandon and utter conviction, that it is a delight to listen to.
Backed by the rock-solid rhythm section of Adrian Mack on drums and backing vocals and Erik P.H. Nielsen on bass and backing vocals and Matt Kelly of keys, Hope leaves nothing out there on these performances, expertly captured by Felix Fung of Little Red Sounds studio in Vancouver. There is an atavistic thrill in listening to primal rock music played with such attitude and I’m All Yours is one of the most exciting albums heard by this reviewer recently. The core band is also supplemented at various times by Scott Smith’s pedal steel guitar, Jerry Cook’s saxophone and Derry Byrne’s trumpet.
“It Come Alive” is followed by the joyous Beatles-esque rock of The Flamin’ Groovies’ “Golden Clouds” with its descending arpeggio guitar patterns, before the overcast threat of “Creepstone” and the discordant modern blues-rock grind of “La Iguana” (with a fine solo from Kelly). The magnificent country-rock-pop of “Blow Away” contains the infuriatingly catchy chorus of “Let the Heavens fall all around us. We were lucky that they never found us. I was drunker than a Lord and so were you.” It is worth commending the backing vocals throughout, which are outstanding.
Hope, Nielsen and Mack wrote or co-wrote eight of the 10 songs on the album. The two covers are “Golden Clouds” and Juke Boy Bonner’s “Runnin’ Shoes” (perhaps most famously covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds on their 1980 classic What’s The Word?). The originals lose nothing in comparison to the hallowed covers. The guitar/keyboard riff of “5 Cents A Dance” again recalls 1960s garage band rock, while the funky pop-soul of “Some Kind Of Love” contains one of Hope’s most vulnerable and endearing vocal performances.
Hope’s charisma shines through every aspect of I’m All Yours, begging the question why he isn’t more well-known. A fine guitar player, he may lack the undisguised virtuosity of a Nick Curran, but he plays and sings with a similar full-bore, flat-out attitude. His slow blues, “Paranoia Blues” has a hypnotic quality that subtly disguises the smart dynamics and mature use of space and restraint.
Although it’s at the rockier end of the blues-rock spectrum, I’m All Yours is a thrillingly visceral album. It oozes grease, grime, excitement and passion. If you enjoy the likes of Steve Conte, Johnny Thunders or the rockier side of Nick Curran, you will want to check this out. It’s what rock’n’roll should be.