I must confess I was a bit late to the party in discovering Pink Cream 69, with “Waiting for the Dawn” being my introduction to the band founded by Andi Deris, Dennis Ward, Kosta Zafiriou and Alfred Koffler. “Sonic Dynamite” was everything I had hoped for, and “Endangered” had a brilliant cover of “Pinball Wizard” which made the band a firm favourite.
Fast forward to 2017 and Pink Cream 69 are still going strong and the release of their 12th studio album, “Headstrong” marks the bands 30th anniversary. Produced by bassist (and renowned producer) Dennis Ward, “Headstrong” sees the same line-up from 2013’s well received “Ceremonial” album return.
Honestly, when I received the promo copy I had mixed feelings. On one hand, excitement, I had always enjoyed the bands previous works, but also an element of trepidation in that, what if it didn’t live up to my expectations?
“Headstrong” kicks off with “We Bow To None” and my fears lessen slightly. The same quality musicianship is there, and Readman’s vocals haven’t aged a day. It’s typical Pink Cream 69, punchy and catchy. “Walls Come Down” was really when my expectations were met. The problem is Pink Cream 69 always deliver good songs to the point where for a song to stand out it has to be exceptional. Personally “Walls Come Down” ticked that box for me, heavier guitar riffs accent a track with a meaner streak without losing any of the melodic signature of the band.
“Unite And Divide” continues the musical journey with some thundering drums propelling the listener along until they’re in receipt of a blistering guitar solo. Many of the bands from the same era as Pink Cream 69 tried to change their sound, and ultimately lost themselves, but thankfully Readman and co have stayed true to themselves writing the music that they want to, losing none of their energy or enthusiasm.
“No More Fear” is something of a celebration in breaking free from the shackles of fear, it’s triumphant, defiant. “Man Of Sorrow” starts of slowly and initially I wasn’t sure which way the band would go with it, whether they would keep it stripped back or if it would break into an anthemic ballad of a chorus. As it turns out they went for the latter.
“Path Of Destiny” has a faster tempo, which dare I say it reminded me very much of classic Iron Maiden, which isn’t a bad thing. “Vagrant Of The Night” is perhaps what I was expecting of “Man of Sorrow”, but is definitely one of my favourite tracks on ”Headstrong”. It’s much more of a “lighter waving” ballad beautifully executed.
“Bloodsucker” is a real kick where it hurts track that pulls no punches in venting a less than favourable damning indictment of the subject of the song. “Whistleblower” continues the theme with a kick ass riff as you’d expect, losing none of the impetus built up throughout the album. “The Other Man” on the other hand lightens up in both tempo and tone.
All in all this would make Headstrong a terrific album, but there’s more on offer with a second disc of a live recording from their hometown of Karlsruhe in 2013, the quality of which is pretty damned superb! “Headstrong” is a terrific way to celebrate 30 years and well worth a listen!