What does it sound like?:
In recognition of it’s 30th anniversary, “Sonic Temple” gets an expanded, multi format release, their first US platinum certified record and the one that finally cemented the status as cock rock superstars. In terms of ripping riffs, it’s hard to think of another album so heavily loaded, with Billy Duffy unleashing his full guitar god – giving it the full Townsend windmill on the original album cover – whilst Ian Ashbury continued to be Jim Morrison incarnate (despite knocking back Ollie Stone’s offer of the title role in the film).
Whilst it’s not quite all killer / no filler, there are some absolute corker’s here. “Sun King” opens with mystical atmospherics over Ashbury announcing “This is where it all ends” before the riffs start and he’s bellowing “Hot damn, mercy maam”. “Fire Woman” pretty much repeats the formula with a jangling start before it winds up to a real foot stomper and Ashbury is now “prancing like a cat on a hot tin shack”.
Could it get any better – well, yes here and there. “American Horse” is slower paced and for all it’s pounding bluster a bit too repetitive. Power ballad “Edie Ciao Baby”, a tribute actress Edie Sedgwick, has seen gallons of lighter fluid consumed at gigs but I’ve never been able to get past Ashbury’s extended “feeeeeet” and “cheeeeeek” on the chorus. There’s a return to form on “Sweet Soul Sister”, another Duffy driven song with a powerful chorus, and the pace barely let’s up on “Soul Asylum”. “New York City” is easily as strong as “Sun King” and “Automatic Blues” shows Duffy had listened to a few Led Zep albums. Possibly the best cut on the album is “Soldier Blue”, pumping guitar matched with a catchy chorus.
And there’s plenty more if you have the 53 track 5 cd set. There are demos (19 in total) which include “Fire Rock” before it became “Fire Woman” and some of the versions that were re-recorded and featured Kiss’s Eric Singer on drums. Non album tracks include the rather indulgent acoustic guitar and brushes “Messin The Blues”, a fairly dire “Yes Man” and a positively rifftastic “Medicine Train” that was originally for the Saudi only release.
The final CD is a live Wembley set that features most of “Sonic” plus “She Sells Sanctuary” and suggests that live they were a little more ragged but just as in your face. At around £75 for the vinyl set (3 records and a cassette….) I think they are having a laugh but £35 for the 5 CDs feels like a bit of a bargain. Take a trip to the Sun King’s promised land.
What does it all *mean*?
Another namecheck for “Smokestack Lightning”
Goes well with…
Everything turned up to 11
Might suit people who like…
According to Amazon, customers also bought albums by Prince, Simple Minds, Marillion, The Rolling Stones, Michael Monroe, REM and Pink Floyd. Well, one of those makes sense.