Beer,Picks & Old Records – Gary Sunshine
The latest album by Gary Sunshine was released back in September and I guess in many ways seeing how this is more of an official release it could be seen has his debut album. The albums title of Beer, Picks & Old Records perhaps comes as no surprise to myself since I stumbled across him and his many songs over the past 7 years on Soundcloud. He has always struck me has a songwriter who has travelled about a lot and his songs do reflect what he sees throughout his travels and how life can be in general. His songs can be about losers, lovers, thrillseekers, troublemakers, guitars, bars, hitchhikers crime & love, hope & disappointment, America & Rock n Roll and a few other things besides.
No doubt Sunshine has travelled about a good bit and seen many places and things during his musical career which stretches back to the early 80’s, where he first started out with a punk, new wave, power pop 4-piece outfit known as the Screaming Sneakers. In the mid 80’s to the early 90’s he was part of the 4-piece hard rock band Circus of Power to which were a more successful band where he got to visit many other countries and see more of the world. He also had a short stint with another punk outfit known as NY Loose and another short stint with the country rock band The Silos before turning his back on bands and pursing a solo career. All of which I will go into more detail in the history section of my review.
Sunshine has moved on since those days and going alone, but has plenty of experience under his belt and has taken much of that with him to be able to craft out his own songs and give himself more of his own distinctive style with how he can so skilfully carve and shape things out and deliver them. He can still very much incorporate things from those days into his writing with songs like “Sex Pistols & The Ramones (A Love Story)” and “Black Sabbath In Love“.
Those are just a couple of his older songs he wrote that recall and reflect those old times he spent on the road with some of the bands he played with and where he got to meet many other GREAT! bands and artists who have crossed his path of his musical career.
He could even tell you about the last time he saw Dylan back then too, and on his latest record he will even tell you how sometimes he just wants to be like Jimmy Page. Those artists and many others were all part of the things that influenced him when he was young, growing up and are the very thing that made him want to go out and be a ROCK-A-ROLLER! He has even worked with such diverse artists as Guns N’ Roses, Gravity Kills and New Zealand’s Steph Casey and right now he’s back with a vengeance and 13 brand new tunes. But before we go any deeper into his career and his new songs, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The CD comes in a 2-panel gatefold DigiPak and has a slip pocket that houses the CD on the right-hand side on the inside of the gatefold sleeve. It does not come with a booklet but does have all the linear and production notes written on the inside and the song titles on the back of the Digipak. It’s slim sleek and looks neat and presents his new album very well. The CD can be purchased from Gary’s official website for 14 US dollars plus shipping and many other outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and so on.
The album has also been available on vinyl for all you vinyl lovers. I do believe the vinyl release is more of a limited run and only so many have been pressed but copies are still very much available from Gary’s website and other outlets and is priced at $29 plus shipping. There is also a Deluxe CD & Vinyl Editions available that come with a separate 35-page signed booklet that contains bonus words and notes. They are priced at $49 & $69 plus shipping respectively and can be obtained from the store on Gary’s official website only.
The album can also be purchased for less in the form of a Digital Download from most retail stores internationally. You can find out more details from the link here: https://garysunshinemusic.com/index.html
The albums artwork and design is made up of photographs provided by Sunshine and done by Rockmall Creative who also handled the marketing, branding art & video. Overall I think it presents Gary as a solo artist very well and is a good overall, presentation.
Gary Sunshine In Brief History…
Gary Sunshine was born in New York in the US and has spent much of his life in and out of his own city and I believe he now currently resides in Ohio. Although it was down in the south of Florida where he first burst onto the music scene and made a bit of an impact back in the early 80’s with the Screaming Sneakers. This 4-piece outfit consisted of Lisa Nash (vocals). Gary Sunshine (guitar), Bud Gangemi (bass) and Mark Evans (drums). They were very much part of the underground punk rock scene with their style to which many bands were still trying to keep that genre of music alive since it died of death by the end of the 70’s particularly in the UK.
From my research I do believe they also relocated back to New York towards the latter half of the bands existence which would have run from between the years 1981 – 1985. I do know that the band got to cut a 4 track EP on vinyl back in 1982 they titled Marching Orders. The EP contained the songs “Violent Days“. “Grin And Bear“. “I Can’t Help It” and “Abnormal Reflections” and it was originally pressed onto 12-inch vinyl and is extremely hard and rare to get hold of these days. Though it has been reissued onto 7-inch vinyl EP and copies are much easier to obtain and you can get them at a more reasonable price of around 8 – 12 bucks shown in the picture below.
I found the 4 track EP on YouTube and gave it a couple of spins and they were not a bad band at all and remind me a bit of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and were more hard rock n roll in relation to punk bands such as The Sex Pistols we had over here in the UK to which I personally could not stand. I think The Ramones had more of an hard edge rock n roll thing about them too and the Americans done things a bit differently in comparison to the English punk rock explosion we had over here in the 70’s. I don’t think they stuck safety pins in their noses and died their hair some ridiculous colour either :)))).
The EP you can find easily enough on the Tube yourself to give a blast and you could see how good Sunshine was on the electric guitar back in those days too and even back then he must have contributed to the writing even if it was just musically. It was also good to hear some old flanger effects in particular on “Abnormal Reflections” though both the songs “Violent Days” and “I Can’t Help It” very much had more the hit making potential about them. This live video I also came across on the Tube captures the band shot on a video camcorder back in 1984 and I guess this was from a venue in New York after the band had relocated themselves to there from Florida.
Like many bands they all come to an end at some point or another and my guess it was not that much longer that the Screaming Sneakers and its members disbanded and went onto to do other things. Though the band only made a very minute dent in that part of the world I am sure for those that got to see them they can still look back at those good times and no doubt Gary Sunshine will have some fond memories from those times, though he himself was to move onto bigger things and they was only around the corner.
According to my research It was sometime in 1986 (most likely the latter part of it) that Sunshine met up with the vocalist Alex Mitchell, guitarist Ricky Beck Mahler and drummer Ryan Maher and was asked to join them has they needed a bass player. Though Sunshine was no bass player and only played it like many guitarists they seemed like a good bunch of lads and has he was not doing anything at the time it seemed like a good bit of fun to do and he was glad enough of having the opportunity to do something else. I am sure he was not aware of what was around the corner at this stage and it would not have been quite like Jimmy Page joining The Yardbirds as a bass player back in the 60’s who were already a successful band and had already made a name for themselves.
It was this 4-piece outfit who were briefly called The Strangers at first quickly changing the bands name to the Circus of Power by the time they started to play at some of the more popular venues in New York during the following year in 1987. It was also around this time that the rock scene had once again raised its head and was becoming popular once again with bands like Guns N’ Roses bursting onto the scene with their latest debut album Appetite for Destruction. The rock scene was once again populating the charts at the time and more and more record companies were looking to sign up the next big thing and Circus Of Power were soon spotted and signed up to RCA Records in July 1987.
Circus Of Power
The band released their self-titled debut album Circus Of Power in 1988. It was the bands most successful album breaking into the top 200 of the US Billboard albums charts and climbed as high as the 185 spot before disappearing. Sunshine was only ever credited as the bass player on the album although it was not long after the album was made that a 5th member Zowie had joined as the bass guitarist allowing Sunshine to switch to rhythm guitar. A couple of the tracks from the album “Motor” and “Call Of The Wild” were also released as singles though they never charted. But interestingly enough both the videos that were made for the single releases did feature Sunshine on guitar and not bass, and here is the video that was made for the first of those records.
Circus Of Power may not of hit the heights of commercial success like many of the other rock bands like Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Ugly Kid Joe and many others were grabbing the limelight around the same time, but nevertheless over the near enough 10 years they were together they certainly got around and got to play many gigs and even support some of the more well-known bands such as Black Sabbath, Alice In Chains, The Ramones and many more. Their song “Machine” also from their debut album featured in the comedy film The Burbs starring Tom Hanks and they also performed both “Call Of The Wild” and “Letters Home” at the end of The Morton Downey Jr. Show featuring the Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley playing lead guitar with them. The video they made for the song “Heaven & Hell” from their final album also appeared in one of the episodes of Beavis & Butt-Head. In total the band got to make 3 albums and their second album Vices was released in 1990 followed by Magic & Madness in 1993.
I have no idea how much Sunshine contributed to the writing of the bands material on their first couple of albums though he was credited along with all the members of the band on those particular albums. Though I do know that both he and Alex Mitchell wrote together 6 of the 12 tracks that was on their last album Magic & Madness. The band folded in 1995 and it was time once again for Gary Sunshine to move on. The Circus of Power was without doubt the nearest he ever got to the BIG TIME! and even though they were not as popular as many of the other major bands that were in the limelight, they certainly made a bit of an impact and a mark.
Having left the Circus Of Power in 1995 in the same year Sunshine went on to have a short stint with yet another punk rock band known as NY Loose that featured Brijitte West vocals/guitar, Gary Sunshine guitar, Danny Nordahl bass and John Melville drums. Sunshine preferred playing with these types of bands and from what I have heard of this outfit I would say they was more punk rock than rock n’ roll and more like the type of punk rock bands we had over here in the UK certainly musical style wise. From what I can gather it was only a short time he spent with the band though he did get to make a couple of EP’s with the band.
Both EP’s Loosen Up and Trash Given The Chance were released in 1995 and I am not sure that Sunshine even made it to 1996 with the band before he quit, but in that same year he did get to travel over to the UK and he even played at the Flapper and Firkin Pub in my own town of Birmingham. This video caught them in the act at the venue and features them playing a song entitled “James” to which Sunshine co-wrote with West.
To be honest I am not sure which of the Flapper and Firkin Pubs they played at in Birmingham as they did have a few of them around the town. I am pretty sure they all had live music going on in them too and these days there is only one of them left. But around 1997/98 I got to play at two of them with my band which would of been called Intent To Supply back then, and we played at the one in Kings Heath which was The Hare & Hounds and also the one in Selly Oak which may have been called Scruffy Murphys if my memory serves me right.
My guess is that NY Loose decided to come over to the UK because the music they made was more like British Punk Rock and they thought they might have made it more over here than where they were in New York. The band barely made it to the following year in 1996 before it dissolved and it was time for another change for Gary Sunshine.
Sunshine’s next couple of stints was with the band The Silos who were more prominently a 3-piece band that originally formed in New York back in 1985. Their style of music is far cry from punk rock and was more of a southern rock come country folk rock style and quite something different to any other band he had played with. To be honest I am not entirely sure if he actually joined the band or did some session work for them but it was their 1998 album Heater that he did contribute to with his guitar but he may have only played on one or two tracks on the album.
He did also play guitar on the song “Never Lost The Sunshine” from their 2011 album Florizona and it may have been the title of the song they wrote that made them call him back to play on it. I managed to locate the song on the Tube and you can hear for yourself how much different their style was and both The Silos and Circus Of Power certainly appealed more to my taste than the other couple of punk outfits Sunshine played with.
The Silos were originally formed by Walter Salas-Humara and Bob Rupe though Rupe only stuck around for about 5 years and departed from the band after their 3rd album to which they named as their self-titled album when they got signed to RCA records in 1990. That may have been the time that Humara and Sunshine had bumped into each other though I could be completely wrong simply because I cannot make any connection with the mixing engineers and the studios both The Silos and Circus Of Power recorded there albums at.
Though it was Humara that wrote practically all the material for the band and he often called in many other musicians to play on the bands albums and play live. This old cutting from a newspaper I found on Sunshine’s website under the heading of The Silos on the road does suggest he also went out and played live with the band.
However, the album Florizona that The Silos put out in 2011 was to be their last album and that was more or less the same year that Gary Sunshine decided to go solo and do his own thing. His own thing I will go into further in my review of his latest album, but to conclude this section at looking back at his past I would like to leave you this very fascinating piece of history where you can hear Gary Sunshine for yourself speaking about his past in this interview that was released on podcast last year. He not only discuses all the bands he has been involved in I have gone over here, but also some of the session work he did and how he even got to play on the Gun’s N’ Roses song “Oh My God” and his musical relationship with Axl Rose even to the point of teaching Rose how to play guitar. You can listen to it on the link I have posted here.
Beer, Picks & Old Records The Album In Review…
Beer, Picks & Old Records by Gary Sunshine was released on the 7th September 2019. The album contains 13 songs that are spanned over an overall playing time of 46 minutes, 25 seconds which is a very comfortable and respectable time slot for an album of songs. The album is also very well produced and that is really down to Sunshine’s decision to try and raise funds to have the album made in a proper studio with a good producer and a few session players rather than do everything himself like he had with a couple of self-releases back in 2012. So, a Kickstarter Project was set up to help raise the funds to make the record and I have to say the new album certainly sounds GREAT! for it and I am sure Gary is extremely grateful to all those who contributed and they were well happy enough with the end result.
To record the album Gary had to travel from Ohio to Los Angeles which is the most populous city in California. Although I am pretty sure he did not walk the 2, 280 miles like one his many classics “Might Just Walk To California” from his previous album might suggest :))))). The new album was recorded at Unison Studios which is one of the smaller and more affordable studios in LA. They also have an independent music label the Unison Music Group which was set up for artists with original talent.
The Unison Group and Studio was set up in 2007 by Producers Bruce Witkin and Ryan Dorn and the studio offers custom, state-of-the-art recording equipment to get the job done. Sunshine’s new album Beer, Picks & Old Records was produced by Bruce Witkin & Gary Sunshine and Witkin also contributed bass & keyboards to the album. Witkin has a lifetime of experience as an artist and producer. He has recorded and toured with Adam Ant and Vanessa Paradis and has recorded countless artists including The Romantics, Joe Perry, The Blasters, LA Guns and many more. He also wrote and produced music for Martin Short’s “Jiminy Glick” and served as Johnny Depp’s vocal producer in Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” for which he received a Grammy nomination in 2008.
There is no doubt that the album sounds GREAT! and having a producer like Bruce Witkin onboard has done a STELLAR! job for the album that much so, that I would not advise playing Gary’s earlier self-produced album The Nerve Of Some People immediately afterwards and would let the dust settle a bit before doing so. Otherwise it will sound quite lame in comparison. But besides the production work and Witkin’s contribution of bass and keyboards, the other thing that helps the album out are the couple of other session players. Rob Klonel takes care of the drums side of things and Gary roped in his old friend Ricky Beck Mahler from his former band Circus Of Power to help him out on the lead guitar side of things on a couple of the tracks. So’ let’s now take a look at the musicians and credits.
Musicians & Credits…
All songs written and performed by Gary Sunshine. Recorded at Unison Studios Los Angeles, California. Produced by Bruce Witkin & Gary Sunshine. Recorded & Mixed by Bruce Witkin. Mastered by Dave Schultz at D2 Mastering. Album Cover Design by Rockwell Creative.
Gary Sunshine: Vocals/Guitar.
Ricky Beck Mahler: Guitar.
Bruce Witkin: Bass/Keyboards.
Rob Klonel: Drums.
The Album Tracks In Review…
I think what makes any good songwriter is the lyrics and that is where folk, rock and pop songs will always win over my particular fave of genres prog rock. Prog rock is really all about the music and most lyrics in that genre are in general either mythical fantasies based around Greek and Medieval Mythology and various other historical legendary stories and poets that do not have any real baring on reality. It’s the songwriters in this world that bring me back down to earth and its reality and Gary Sunshine is very much a guy who is down to earth regarding his song writing and his songs do have a GREAT! impact on myself as you will see in this following example.
When Gary Sunshine released his first album The Nerve Of Some People back in 2012 it was only ever in the form of a digital download. That album had quite an impact on me and when I purchased it, I could not stop playing it for weeks on end. I still very much play it frequently enough today. I myself stopped buying vinyl back in the late 90’s and I can honestly say it’s a good job I did. Simply because the amount of times I have played this album I would have had to have brought it 5 or 6 times over because that’s how many times it would have worn out at least by now.
The Nerve Of Some People is an album that will have you instantly hooked, but unlike most albums were the material hits you in the face straight away and wears off after a month or so, Sunshine very much writes songs that will stay with you forever. He very much writes songs you can not only sing along to with the record, but will also have you singing them when you are out and about or you’ve just woken up and got out of bed. I have even used phrases of words from this album myself in general discussion with people and that’s how powerful this album is. It’s very hard for any songs these days to have that effect on me and for me personally I have found that over the last couple of decades that very few songs will do that and the biggest majority of songs that do have that effect on me are those that were written many moons ago.
A perfect example of how good this album is and as to why Sunshine’s music grabs me so much is really down to his hook and he does write songs like The Rolling Stones and I am a fan of them too. I even thought that when they made their 20th album Voodoo Lounge back in 1994, I honestly felt that was the best album the Stones had made in YONKS! But not even that album could I get out and play as much as this album of Sunshine’s. I would have to go back to albums like Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed that were made in the late 60’s to come near to how good The Nerve Of Some People really is.
I think the thing that makes Sunshine’s album stand out so well are the many classics it contains. It’s a 15-track album and I would not say it was entirely a solid album but the classic songs do hold it up easy enough for you to sit through the whole album comfortably enough. There are a few songs I could throw out but that is really down to production standards more than anything and some of the songs do suffer a bit for those reasons and it’s not been produced like the latest album and was made by Sunshine himself in his home studio at home.
Beer, Picks & Old Records is an album that benefits and shines a lot more with its production standards and in terms of quality there is no doubt it outweighs his self-produced predecessor The Nerve Of Some People from 2012. But does it contain as many classic songs to make the album shine enough and match up to that GREAT! album from 2012? To answer that question let’s take a closer look at the new albums individual tracks.
Track 1. Beer, Picks & Old Records.
The album gets off to a GREAT! start with albums self-titled track and already we have a story that relates to a situation many have found ourselves in regarding being left in the lurch, especially regarding broken down relationships. Musically there is not a lot to it and I am pretty sure the song only contains 3 chords, but it’s what you do with them and how you deliver the song that make it what it is and work so well. Sunshine’s voice and acoustic guitar drive this along very well with the drums and his bends on the acoustic I can instantly distinguish too and they feature on most of his songs.
“Beer, Picks & Old Records” is perhaps a song that is a bit more minimalistic regarding the use of the session players in relation to some of the other songs on the album where they do get to feature and stand out more. But there is enough in here to make it one of the albums contenders for the TOP SPOT! on the album and I like it a lot and also think that it makes a GREAT! title for the album. I would even say this song is very much a Sunshine classic.
Track 2. Banging On My Head.
This next song sits right in with the groove and hook of The Rolling Stones and the drum pounds it’s way effectively through the song to fit in with the title, I like the distortion that has been applied to the drum as well and it’s like it’s got quite a bounce to it and sounds almost like an African Djembe. Just like the opening track this one features mostly Sunshine on acoustic guitar and it does sound like he’s the only person on this track. Although this does also feature Bruce Witkin’s on bass and Rob Klonel on drums and you can tell the song has been re-recorded again in relation to the original demo he put out on Soundcloud.
Lyrically the song is pertaining to the pressures that can be put upon the life of a rock n roll star with his busy schedule and with all the materialistic things that’s opened up to them. That is how it comes across to me, but they also could relate to things going wrong and learning to tread through life more carefully and all sorts of trouble. Whatever they relate to they are banging it out very well and it’s quite a GREAT! little song.
Track 3. But I Got All My Feelings Hurt.
Sometimes there are things in life that hurt us that much that we can never really get over them and this what this song is pertaining to. It’s the shortest track on the album and is just under the 3-minute mark. Sunshine gets out the electric guitars for this one and along with Witkin and Klonel they get into the full swing of things on this one and do a GRAND! job here.
Like some of the songs on the album they was written quite awhile back and this one Gary wrote about 5 years ago and the original demo does have more of a bluesy feel about it especially has he was using acoustic guitars only. This version gives it more of a rock n roll feel that sits in well with the style and groove of the Stones and hearing it done this way like many of the songs on the album it does make them sound brand new.
Track 4. Love Turns.
It often surprises me of how Sunshine’s voice can work so well with ballads and it works effectively on this really GREAT! ballad of a song to which I very much think is a classic and is also my personal favourite track on the album. “Love Turns” is not one of Sunshine’s new songs and this one goes back to 2012. It may very well of been written earlier than that but it was previously released back in 2012 on a 6 track EP he put out back then entitled Lead Me Away From This Bar.
The original song was only 2 minutes, 23 seconds long and was more of a demo. The EP does have some GREAT! songs on it and this particular song did not stand out as well as it did on the EP like it does on this album. This new version is almost twice as long and you get 3 minutes, 58 seconds and it’s purely GOLDEN! Once again both Witkin and Klonel along with Sunshine do the BIZZO! on this song. But what also makes this song sound so GREAT! is the country feel that Ricky Beck Mahler gives to it on the lead guitar and this is the first of two tracks he appears on the album. He also uses an ebow and the sound he’s got on the guitar reminds me of the early 70’s you would get on early Rod Stewart albums like Every Picture Tells A Story and even Sandy Denny’s 2nd album she released back in 1972 entitled Sandy. I love how he makes the lead notes BITE! too. It really is a FANTASTIC! song to which Mahler has done a TOP JOB! on.
The song was written whilst Sunshine was going through the divorce of his wife at the time and the lyrics reflect that. I think many of Sunshine’s songs are almost like an autobiography of his own life and everything he has seen and experienced in life on his many travels. Gary delivers this song with perfection and every time I play this song for some reason it brings a tear of joy dwelling from my eye when he says the words “Boo Hoo” around the 1:48 mark just before the first lead break. Strange how such a sad song can even reflect happiness and this one merits the TOP SPOT AWARD! of the album.
Track 5. We Had Gold.
It’s time to ROCK! things up a bit more and Sunshine and the guys belt this one out in GREAT! style that once again has the hook that’s so familiar with the Stones. Once again he is on the electric guitar and does quite a tasty job of it and this is also quite a new song that could of possibly been written whilst Gary was putting the new album together over the past year. I am also pretty sure no demo was ever put out of it and it could of been the last song he wrote for the album.
Lyrically the song could pertain to the rise and fall of many bands and artists in that sometimes you can only be popular for so long before the next wave of bands and artists sweep you away sort of thing. Whatever the lyrics are pertaining to this song really ROCKS! and is another really GREAT! well driven song and a bit funky with it too.
Track 6. Hell.
Hell is perhaps not the way you would imagine or thought that things would be like growing up with everything that life throws at us, and that is what the words are pertaining to in this fine song that is perhaps not as hot as hell but simmers the album down a bit more. Witkin’s bass works very well on this song and it’s also one of the few tracks on the album he also contributes keyboards on as well. Sunshine has a GREAT! way with words and knows how to write GREAT! song and this is another CRACKING little number.
Track 7. Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page).
It’s time to ROCK! things up a bit again and I am sure many guitarists would wanna be Jimmy Page and he had such an influence on many guitarists too. There are times I pick up my guitar and wanna be him myself but there is only one Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin were a GREAT! band. This song like many on the album does have more of a Stones feel about it apart from the ending, especially the way it swings with the rhythm. This is also the other track on the album that Ricky Beck Mahler contributes some lead guitar on and everyone is doing a GRAND! job on the song.
I love the subject matter Sunshine has chosen to write about here and how the story he wrote relates to a band starting out. It’s one of those songs that latches on to easy enough and will have you singing along to it, which is why I do feel that this is another song in contention for the albums TOP SPOT!.
Track 8. Your Beautiful Life.
This is perhaps more of a contender for the albums TOP SPOT! than the previous song and Gary is rolling them out one after the other here. Musically the song reminds me a bit like one of his classics “Mexico” off his 2012 album The Nerve Of Some People. I guess it’s the way the song drives along that puts me in mind of that song. It could also be that it has a beautiful thing though it might not have silver lockets and the thing of beauty here is life and how it can be easily taken away from us, yet there are still worse things in the world. The song portrays the story of Rose the Hitchhiker and it is without doubt another GREAT! song that features some GREAT! guitar work by Sunshine too..
Track 9. When The Cops Came By.
Looking at the title you would never guess that this was a song about romance and Sunshine really does have a GREAT! way of going about the subject matter with his words. Although this song is nothing like “One Tilted Rose In A Candy Jar” from his 2012 album The Nerve Of Some People I did also see this quite a romantic song and it puts me in mind of that song for those reasons. Although I personally think this is a bit better and is more along the lines of a Sunshine classic. Gary is on the acoustic for this one and it also features some fine keyboard work from Witkin and is very much a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 10. She Hates The Blues.
A GREAT! rocking’ blues number and this one is the longest track on the album weighing in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds. The song pertains to a story about those moaning assholes who wind up in a bar where the music the band is playing is not to their particular taste and do nothing but complain about it rather than going off somewhere else. The solution to the problem is to simply whack up the volume and give it to them and Sunshine and the guys certainly do in fine style.
Track 11. All Hearts Break.
Another GREAT! song that has to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT! “All Hearts Break” is a song about the hurt that is hard to shake off when one’s heart is broken and I am sure many of us have been there and bumped into those who have. Sunshine captures and sets the scene with the down to earth story he wrote for it and delivers the song with GREAT! conviction.
It’s really GREAT! to see how this song has progressed from the original rough demo and what’s been done with it here really does the song a lot more justice and it now ROCKS! well and truly for it. All 3 of the guys have done a GRAND! job here.
Track 12. Three Good Tires.
Another CRACKING! song that contains some really GREAT! acoustic playing from Sunshine and he also works in some GREAT! work with some fine touches on the electric guitar along the way and towards the end of it too. Lyrically the song pertains to being dragged down and being down on your luck, especially when you’re missing that one little thing that might make things run a bit smoother. Due to vinyl restrictions “Three Good Tires” is omitted from the vinyl release.
Track 13. Young (Ain’t You a Rock And Roller).
The album ends off in style and this another GREAT! little acoustic number to which features some fine keyboard work from Bruce Witkin that works extremely well with everything here. It’s quite a subtle song and once again this is another really good story Sunshine has written which pertains to being young and in love and looking back at those times and some of those musical GREATS! that influenced us and those who just play for the love of it. This is also one of Sunshine’s older songs he wrote around 6 years ago and he also wrote it in two parts, but this is the first part which is more of a ballad in relation to the second part he wrote and it wraps up another really GREAT! album.
To sum up the album Beer, Picks & Old Records by Gary Sunshine. I very much think that what you are getting here is an album that contains 13 very well written songs that have been very skilfully placed with the right placement on the album to very much make it work and make quite a solid album. Personally, I cannot fault one track on the album and the way the songs come at you one after the other makes the album flow like a really good wine. But I would also say more of a vintage wine in that the material is very much old-school that draws from the same style of rock & blues you would of got from many other artists and bands many moons ago.
So, this is very much an album that would appeal more to people like myself and not so much to the younger generation or those looking for something more up to date and new that one would get out of today’s more modern pop music for example.
But regardless of the music being old-school and more along the lines of The Rolling Stones and many other ROCK N’ ROLLERS! There is no doubt that Gary Sunshine does also have quite his own distinctive way of delivering his songs to you which is what makes him stand out. Plus, with all he has experienced on the road as a ROCK-A-ROLLER himself, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very good songwriter who writes songs that are down to earth and very interesting to keep you attentive enough to pay attention and listen.
In answer to my question further back of whether the album Beer, Picks & Old Records contains more classic songs than his previous album The Nerve Of Some People. Personally, I do not think it does and to give you an example these are the songs I would consider as Sunshine classics on the new album. “Beer, Picks & Old Records“. “Love Turns“. “Your Beautiful Life” and “When The Cops Came By“. And these are the ones I consider to be classics off his old album “If You See The Devil“. “A Gentleman With A Gun Strapped To His Ankle“. “Mexico“. “One Tilted Rose In A Candy Jar“. “The Nerve Of Some People“. “Cracked Guitar” and “Might Just Walk to California“.
But where the album Beer, Picks & Old Records wins and works better is certainly down to the production standards and that is what makes many of the songs stand out and why I even chose quite a good few of its tracks to be potential contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Beer, Picks & Old Records“. “Love Turns“. “Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page)“. “Your Beautiful Life“. “When The Cops Came By” and “All the Hearts Break“. But I could easily add every track on the album to that list.
To wind up my review of Gary Sunshine’s latest album Beer, Picks & Old Records. I personally think this is an album that makes Gary Sunshine really SHINE! and that is very much down to the quality production behind it and right now it is without a doubt the best album you could ever possibly get of his for those reasons. I do however feel that if his self-produced debut album The Nerve Of Some People had the same production behind it, it would be the better album out of the two. But even though his latest album does consist of songs that were mostly written over the last year or two, there is no doubt Sunshine still has what it takes to write GREAT! songs and this is another of his albums that will give me tremendous pleasure for many years to come.
Beer, Picks & Old Records is an album that should appeal to many peoples tastes especially for those who are into The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Band, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Johnny Winter and many other ROCK-A-ROLLERS! It sure as hell ROCKS! my boat and I am sure it will do the same for many others. Gary Sunshine delivers the goods in style and with his own unique style too, and this is an artist and an album that is well worthy of checking out and I highly recommend you do.
You can find out more about Gary Sunshine and his album here on his website. The album is also available at many other retail stores internationally in both physical and digital formats. https://garysunshinemusic.com/index.html
There’s No Sympathy For The Devil, No More Public Enemy…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Beer, Picks & Old Records. 3:33.
02. Banging On My Head. 3:19.
03. But I Got All My Feelings Hurt. 2:53.
04. Love Turns. 3:58.
05. We Had Gold. 3:20.
06. Hell. 3:16.
07. Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page). 3:20.
08. Your Beautiful Life. 3:43.
09. When The Cops Came By. 3:04.
10. She Hates The Blues. 4:20.
11. All the Hearts Break. 4:15.
12. Three Good Tires. 4:16.
13. Young (Ain’t You a Rock And Roller). 3:08.
Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.
Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 8/10.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.