Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Larry Morris once said his best album was 5.55am of the early Seventies, which went unreleased at the time when he went to jail for a serious drug offense.
He may be right, but listened to now (it is available on Spotify) it seems a bit MOR for a man who made his reputation in Larry's Rebels as a rock'n'soul singer, and alongside the likes of Bunny Walters, one of our best.
Him singing We've Only Just Begun and a medley of Long and Winding Road/Yesterday (all with strings) just seemed a very tame version of Morris . . . and tellingly when he came out of prison he formed a band called Shotgun.
Larry Morris is one of the great long-distance runners in New Zealand music and is still out there doing it with considerable credibility on the live circuit.
And this is a new album from someone we are more used to hearing on anthologies and compilations.
With most of the songwriting split between bassist Rob Paterson and Morris, this kicks in with Paterson's Krazy Kathy and stabbing guitar chords (“the hangi's hot, it's the perfect night . . . she's the moonlight shining on the carving knife”). This is Morris back in hard rocking territory and the throbbing Miss Believing, also by Paterson, (“there's blood on my guitar, the future seems too far”) drives the point home.
Morris' originals here are strong: the dark menace of Long Time Coming; the soul horns which punch home the autobiographical Little Did We Know (“we would strike a chord, learning as we went” and a nod to Neil Finn); the sophisticated Twice Bitten; the broken voice he brings to Arms Open Wide . . .
Certainly there are lesser moments (Hey Mister Rock'n'Roll Guitar Man isn't their finest moment) and Morris' voice sometimes fails him when reaching for that rock'n'soul personae.
But with a fine band (Richard Anaru bring guitar firepower when required) and some songs which will brush up well live (drummer/producer Leyton Greenings' soul-funk on Ghost in the Night, the gritty Soon Found Out), Amigos is a solid album from someone who has lasted the distance while others fell by the wayside.
You can hear this album on Spotify here.