While America had Bon Jovi and Tommy and Gina, the UK had Little Angels and Johnny. And “Johnny never cared ‘bout nobody cause no-one ever cared ‘bout John. He’s crawled his way this far through life. He’s the original wayward son….”. Little Angels were part of the vanguard of British rock along with Thunder and The Quireboys who enjoyed chart success during the late ‘80’s early ‘90’s. Times were good then. Turn on the radio (our YouTube), and you could regularly hear ‘Dirty Love’, ‘7 O’Clock’ and in the case of Scarborough’s finest ‘Kicking Up Dust’. Fast forward to present day, Thunder and The Quireboys are still going strong, Little Angels are no more, but frontman Toby Jepson is very much still in the game. Favouring the band dynamic over a solo project, Jepson has opted to go with a tribute to Little Angels by naming the band Wayward Sons, and he’s only gone and knocked it right out of the bloody park!
As British an album as you’re likely to hear this year, ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ alludes to the golden days of Thin Lizzy, The Who, and in places, even Punk. ‘Small Talk’ has a punk snarl about it, as Jepson spits out the lyrics, and musically it reminds me of The Police before they got bloated and shit. Take the intro to ‘Killing Time’… for a few short moments it’s 1977, and snotty teens are wearing bin bags and risking septicaemia by piercing their own ears with safety pins. Just the intro though, after that, it’s old school hard rock with a smidgen of Alice In Chains meets Guns N’ Roses thrown in. Jepson sounds in fine voice for someone about to hit the big 5-0, more than capable of hitting the high notes and holding them on both ‘Killing Time’ and the blistering opening track ‘Alive’. ‘Until The End’ puts its hand up as an early contender for favourite track on the album. A cracking Roger Daltrey inspired vocal performance from Jepson and what the hell did they put in drummer Phil Martini’s drink before pressing ‘record’? The tub-thumper plays out of his skin, and puts in one hell of a shift. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing the shit out of ‘Quadrophenia’ lately, but it has a massive ‘The Real Me’ vibe going on. Elsewhere, you would be hard pressed not to notice the Thin Lizzy influence on ‘Ghost’, or ‘Be Still’, which features a standout narrative vocal from Jepson that everyone can identify with. The latter is an infectious few minutes of good time rock n’ roll that will have the listener chuckling as Jepson sounds like he’s regaling everyone with what he got up to the previous night. It’s very, very catchy, with a some lovely riffage from guitarist Sam Wood, who also impresses on ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’, amongst many others. Make no mistake, this is an album steeped in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, but with tracks like ‘Crush’ and ‘Give It Away’, the band prove that they are very much relevant today. Two monster tracks tailor made for daytime radio.
Although Jepson is an old hand, and has a wealth of experience (as well as oodles of respect as a producer and songwriter), this is a bloody strong debut from Wayward Sons by anyone’s standards. Life begins at 49?
‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ is available now through Frontiers Music, Wayward Sons will be on the road soon as guests on the impending UK tour by Inglorious. All dates can be found here.
Review: Dave Stott