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Review: Little Caesar – ‘Eight’

Little CaesarLittle Caesar were truly a band in the wrong place at the wrong time. Along with Junkyard and perhaps Circus Of Power, the Californian five piece were wrongly lumped in with the hair metal movement. They had hair, yeah, but that was as far as the connection went. Little Caesar were the ones that had the expectations of Geffen Records heaped on their broad shoulders though. The rest is history, and arguably one of the top five rock n’ roll bands that America produced were kicked in the nuts and dumped at the roadside. Like Caesar vocalist Ron Young sings on ‘Vegas’ from new album ‘Eight’; “Too stupid for New York, too ugly for Hollywood”. They are perfect for the UK and Europe though, where hair metal never really caught on like it did on Sunset Strip. Little Caesar’s blend of riff driven rock, sweet soul music, and three part vocal harmonies, gave them a cult following over here. Thankfully, with the new DIY approach that is the music business today, Little Caesar are back with a new album, new record label, and it seems like the last few decades don’t matter one little bit.

As soon as ‘21 Again’ kicks in you know that this is a Little Caesar album; fantastic gritty riffs, simple but steady drums and the unmistakable vocals of Ron Young. It’s not flash, and doesn’t set out to be flash, it’s rock n’ roll, pure and simple. Then we have an incredible version of Merle Haggard’s ‘Mama Tried’. Little Caesar have taken the classic tale of being literally ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’ and added some pace, some riffs, and a thumping bass sound from Pharoah Barrett. Live, this one is a barnstormer. ‘Vegas’ has a smoking riff that turns back the years to the first time the needle dropped on the debut album in 1990, but ‘Good Times’ is more contemporary. A snarling guitar sound coupled with a thumping performance from drummer Tom Morris, I’m loving it big time, especially the swirling climax to the song. ‘Straight Shooter’ is another gem, riff-laden with a live right-here-right-now feel that sounds incredible cranked up. Ask my neighbours!

The other side to Little Caesar is of course the softer side. Beauties like ‘From The Start’, ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ and ‘In Your Arms’ all highlighted their knack of producing stellar “power ballads” without watering down the attitude. ‘Time Enough For That’ is as close to a ballad as current day Little Caesar go… the perfect excuse to slow things down and let Ron Young highlight his vocal range. Check out his work with funk and soul covers band Tighty Whiteys. The dude can sing. ‘Morning’ is similar in tempo, but with added snarl, and a gorgeous guitar tone throughout. Little Caesar; they came, they saw, they went away for a bit… and now they are back. Damn, that sounds good to say. Little Caesar are back.

‘Eight’ is available now on Golden Robot Records, more information here.  

Review: Dave

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