Black Soul Choir
Bad Moon Rising
For Heaven’s Sake
South Pennsylvania Waltz
Day Of The Lords
WATCH & LISTEN
Live albums are always such a thing, they often seem to be used to plug creative holes, often a band simply doesn’t bring the qualities on stage that make a concert captured on sound recording an impressive pleasure, and often succeed Even good live bands fail to capture the experience in such a way that a live album unfolds its own atmosphere that is equal or even superior to the respective studio oeuvre, or sweeps the listener along with its sheer intensity.
16 Horsepower‘s “Hoarse” is undoubtedly one of the exceptions. The 11 songs, recorded in 1998 in Denver and Paris, show the band at the height of their creativity, even more, the versions of the songs from their studio classics “Low Estate” and “Sackloth’n’Ashes” that can be heard here are close to perfection. What a power, what a force, from the intro of the opener “American Wheeze”, which is dominated by David Eugene Edwards’ accordion, it doesn’t take 2 minutes for Steve Taylor, Jeffrey Paul Norlander, Jean-Yves Tolà and Pascal Humbert to let all hell break loose . 16 Horsepower weren’t a band in 1998, they were a machine that became more than the sum of its individual parts as soon as a stage was entered. A machine that crushed everything, not brutally, not loudly. So it’s brutal and loud, but not in the sense known from “ordinary” rockers/metallers who like to confuse “loud” with intense. Despite their raw power, 16 Horsepower were always filigree, they mastered the soft tones (listen to the gigantic CCR cover of “Bad Moon Risin'”!) with the same sovereignty as the full board. The fact that they had one of the most charismatic frontmen of the last three decades on board with David Eugene Edwards certainly didn’t hurt either… Anyway, the cover versions, three in total. Alongside “Bad Moon Risin'” there’s Gun Club’s “Fire Spirit” with duet partner Bertrand Cantat (Noir Desir, now Détroit) in a rousing version (which for me, despite being an ardent Gun Club fan of the first three albums, is at least on par with the original ) and above all a brilliant “Day of the Lords”, one of those covers that is actually forbidden per se, because who should ever be able to do even halfway justice to a Joy Division song in any way? 16 Horsepower were able to do that. And in a way that gives goosebumps, “Day of the Lords” is integrated into the repertoire with all the respect that the band bestows on it, as naturally and with impressive intensity and absolute harmony as if it would be her own song.
Whatever the quality of their own songs, for example, the quietest track on the album, “Horse Head” is a song borne of incredible melancholy, in which Jeffrey Paul Norlander’s violin plays perfectly with David Eugene Edwards’ plaintive voice, the bowed bass Pascal Humbert ‘s and the guitars interacting, or the monumental “For Heavens Sake” pulls in, a prime example of mastery of feedback, like perfect use of what we like to call “slicing silde guitar”.
Anyway, the originals, eight in total. If you know the corresponding studio versions, you should and must listen here. Here all, really all songs have been developed into absolutely perfect versions. Evolution, one of the hallmarks of the Denver, CO. band that finally broke up in 2004. One of their songs was never finished in its development, always just a snapshot, whether as a studio recording or in the development from tour to tour, there was never a standstill, repetition.
Anyone who has ever seen the band live knows what magic happened there and “Hoarse” is one of those rare exceptional albums that captured this moment in its full power and intensity and – more fortunately than planned – in an excellent way sound quality. “Hoarse” is the essence of 16 Horsepower’s work, a record that for me has the same class as a live album as The Doors’ “Absolutely Live”, Bob Dylan’s “Royal Albert Hall” concert, or Hendrix’s ” Band of Gypsies”.
“Hoarse” will be released on October 17th, 2014 for the first time as a double LP on 180 gram vinyl (plus) CD, the CD with new artwork and previously unpublished photo material.