9 songs – 49 minutes
Big Rolling Wheel are a Portuguese power trio who formed in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2013. This album was recorded at The Crossover Studios in Portugal and is their first recording. The band comprises José Cordeiros on vocals and guitar;Rui Vasconcelos on bass and Daniel Matias on drums and percussion. Abel Zambujo guests on three songs on harp and one on sax. Cordeiros also wrote all nine songs on the album.
Opening with “Last Stone”, it is immediately apparent that while the blues may be an important influence for the band, perhaps more important are the likes of Free, Jimi Hendrix, or Mountain. This is heavy rock with a nod towards the blues. The drums are busy and pounding, the usual pace of the songs is slow to mid-paced, and the guitar solos are extended. The song structures, for example on the slow-grinding “Big Wheel”, may follow a classic blues chord structure, but they are played with a power and muscularity that is pure rock. Cordeiros favours an smooth, over-driven guitar tone, which makes for some lovely extended solo notes (as in “Dusty Road”), but again this tends to move the songs further away from blues.
One or two of the tracks, such as “I Miss You” and “Howling Dog” reach towards a heavy-funk sound, while “Lifetime” is a gentle ballad that benefits from Zambujo’s wistful saxophone, but the majority of the album is good old fashioned heavy rock.
Cordeiros’s gruff, barking voice suits the music well, at times sounding like a cross between the late John Campbell and The Scorpions’ Klaus Meine. He sings in heavily accented English, with an interesting lyrical slant. In “I Miss You”, his willingness to rhyme “delicious” with “insidious” creates a striking image that perfectly fits the torn complexity of the song’s narrator.
The CD is nicely packaged, with excellent photos. The tracks are also ordered in a novel manner, with the shorter songs (around the four minute mark) at the beginning of the CD. By the end of the album, the seven minute “Dusty Road” and the nine minute “Poison” enable Cordeiros, Matias and Vasconcelos to really stretch out on their improvisations.
From this reviewer’s perspective, Big Rolling Wheel would benefit from adding a little of Led Zeppelin’s subtle dynamics or (early) ZZ Top’s earthy groove to their heavy rock cocktail, but this first album contains more than enough to suggest that there are some great moments to come from this band..
If riff-based, heavy blues-rock is your thing, you may want to check out Big Rolling Wheel.