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Review: Paul Johnson – ‘Give Up The Ghost’ EP

Paul Johnson

‘Give Up The Ghost’ is the debut EP from Mississippi’s Paul Johnson And The About Last Nights. The fact it’s produced by Tuk Smith from The Biters will give you a starter for 10 as to what it sounds like. The full on glam that makes up much of The Biters sound is missing, but the love of a good power chord and the Cheap Trick influences are very much on display.

Anything with an instant power chord will always grab my attention and make me put the Fray Bentos down.  ‘Give Up The Ghost’ begins with ‘Underachiever’, which possesses an almighty guitar intro that screams “turn it up!”. Simple in its execution, a distant cousin to Keith Richard’s intro to ‘Start Me Up’, it’s a fantastic way to introduce the band to those unfamiliar with them. They don’t hang about getting to the chorus either. Less than a minute in, and we’re knee deep in Foo Fighters at their catchiest. The difference between Paul Johnson And The Last Nights and so many other American rock bands clogging up the airwaves on rock radio is that these guys haven’t forgotten the importance of an electric guitar. Festival season is upon us, and soon the BBC will be spewing out one faceless “rock” band after another, forcing cries of “where’s the riffs, where’s the guitar?” from anyone with an ounce of savvy tuning in to see what the fuss is about. ‘Underachiever’ has some delicious guitar licks that are perfect for drivetime radio. Gritty enough to keep us old farts happy, but not too heavy to scare the listeners. Current single/video ‘Burn It Down’ is perfect American power pop. If you are looking for a reference closer to home then think Lord Ginger Wildheart. The shared love of Cheap Trick meaning they are blood brothers merely separated by a lot of water. Gotta love the handclap, insert-audience-participation-here moment as the song reaches its climax!

‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is the kind of song that if you heard it on the car radio, the gas pedal would be inching closer towards the floor and the steering wheel would be creaking from vigorous tapping. Again, the guitars are key to the overall sound of the song and the riffs are to die for. A little bit of Tuk Smith’s love of glam creeps in on ‘Hollywood’, which has a great swinging groove to it. It’s very British sounding (to these ears at least) and features an incredibly warm, fuzzy guitar sound. Rounding out the short EP is a cover version that is making waves in America, thanks to the original artist tweeting their support for The About Last Night’s version. Nothing quite says 80’s power ballad more than ‘Missing You’ by John Waite, and here, Johnson delivers a version that is both fresh and faithful to the original. So much so that Waite himself tweeted “Strong version by The About Last Nights!!!” Can’t argue with that at all.

‘Give Up The Ghost’ is available now. For more information on Paul Johnson and how to purchase the EP, check out the official website

Review: Dave Stott


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