‘Truth be Told’, Bad Touch’s sophomore effort, was released on Dec 2nd 2016, just as the band completed a tour with Australian sensations Massive. It was the perfect pairing with Bad touch’s bluesy vibe and classic rock crunch potent enough to attract the attention of Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones) who personally mixed the singles ‘99%’ and ‘made to break’ for radio having realised the band’s rock ‘n’ roll heart. With influences ranging from the ubiquitous Led Zeppelin to the Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Touch deal in the sort of full-of-heart classic rock that is guaranteed to get people moving and it is the perfect antidote to the New Year Blues.
Opening with the gospel-flavoured ‘one more night’, it’s immediately apparent that the band’s template very much favours the sky-scraping glory of songs like Black Crowes’ ‘soul singing’. There’s a warmth to the band’s sound (thanks to Jethro Chaplan who mixed the bulk of the album) that effectively allows the band to tackle heartbreak without drawing down the shades upon the listener’s day, and ‘one more night’ is the perfect bittersweet opening to the album. Stevie Westwood (the band’s singer) allows his sense of humour to creep in on the energetic ‘99%’ as the band conjure up a driving backdrop for him and it’s easy to see why the track was chosen for a single. A highlight of the album, ‘Waiting for this’ strips everything back on a verse that allows Stevie’s voice to truly shine whilst the stabbing guitars of Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings (the former now replaced by Harry Slater) and energetic bass runs of Michael Bailey recall Zeppelin’s hallowed ‘kashmir’ without aping it too closely. This is hard rock at its best and the band deliver in spades with this epic workout. Heading back to the smoother, soul-fuelled blues of the Black Crowes, ‘Under my skin’ offers a memorable melody and sweet harmonies before the band get dark and dirty with ‘heartbreaker soulshaker’, a full-blooded rocker fuelled by wah-inflected guitar and a throat-ripping vocal from Stevie. The first half of the album concludes with ‘take your time’, a calmer, sweeter song with plenty of emotional depth and a slight, funky edge.
The second half of the album gets back to heavier pastures with the glorious ‘Let the sun shine’ swinging into view with George Drewry’s pounding drums and a raft of harmonies sending the chorus into the stratosphere. No less energetic is the cracking rock ‘n’ roll of ‘my mother told me’, a blistering song to which we can all relate. Drawing inspiration from an old Clint Eastwood movie, ‘outlaw’ is a gritty cowboy song with a cracking riff whilst ‘made to break’ (the second of the two Chris Kimsey remixes) spares not a moment as George tears into his kit before the band has even had a moment to draw breath. Relentlessly maintaining the pace, ‘healing hand’ sees the band heading into Glenn Hughes territory with a powerful rocker that talks of love, forgiveness and friendship whilst Steve delivers his best vocal yet. The album comes to an end with the potent fury of ‘the mountain’ a track that handles the decimation of the earth’s resources by people who know better but care less. It’s a thought-provoking finale detailing a subject that needs much greater exploration and it juxtaposes a beautiful acoustic figure with a crushing central riff that shows the depth of Bad Touch’s muse.
‘Truth be told’ is a gospel-sweetened hard rock gem that just goes to show the depth of talent that exists outside of the purview of the major labels. For too long England seemed to lack hard-rocking contenders to the heavyweight champions offered up by the US, but no more. Artists like Aaron Keylock and Bad Touch demonstrate that the rock ‘n’ roll fire burns brightly here in the UK and if you seek life-affirming, foot-tapping, riff-belting hard rock then you need look no further. ‘Truth be told’ is a masterly album full of cracking songs – play it loud and proud – this is one band that is here to stay. 9
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