To those familiar with Rex Brown‘s work in his previous bands, then this solo effort titled “Smoke On This…” is perfectly titled as it gives the listener an idea who Rex Brown really is. Sure he may have been part of some of the biggest and most well respected metal bands on the planet but this solo record is a true classic rock album in it’s purest form.
From the opening sizzling number “Train Song” which comings crashing through the walls like the proverbial freight train that it’s aptly titled after, there is no mistaking the kind of music and just as importantly, the kind of vibe Rex wanted to achieve with this album. It’s well and truly worth listening to this album from start to finish as while it’s not a conceptual album by any means, it is a nod to old school rock n’ roll to a time when albums meant something. Where listeners would slide in their favorite record, sit back and have the music take them to a whole other world which is exactly what an album should do. “Smoke On This…” isn’t the kind of record to have hit singles and where you can pick apart a selected few songs and hit the random button on your phone, it’s an album at it’s core and Rex clearly had every intention to have it that way.
One of the most interesting things about this album is not only does Rex play all the bass lines and guitar tracks but he also sings and he actually has a damn good voice which makes me wonder why I had never really noticed his vocals before. Admittedly this is the first time where I have heard him take on the lead vocal duties but his voice matches the music here perfectly, clean but slightly raspy with an ever so slight edge to it just to give the songs a little extra something. On “Lone Rider” the intro typifies the persona of Rex Brown, delivering the line of the album title before flicking the lighter on and sparking what is a great groove based song with an even better bass line.
More of that classic rock feel that borrows elements from bands such as Pink Floyd, Lynrd Skynrd, Led Zeppelin and the like follows through in different variations for the rest of the album from here on out. “Crossing Lines” bridges both old school and contemporary rock, “Buried Alive” touches on deeply personal subjects such as dealing with the loss of close ones while “Get Yourself Alright” just has such a killer vibe to it again that contains that spirit that’s so prominent in older records.
From this point on the album takes a slight detour and travels into more mellow territory but retaining that classic sound and without losing any of it’s quality either. Again this is why this album needs to be heard in it’s entirety rather than taking soundbites from it as it’s the variations that really make the album worth jumping in the deep end for. “Fault Line” is a fairly mellow affair with an almost country-esque sound, “What Comes Around Goes Around” has some cool piano worked into the background and the title repeated in the chorus is so memorable it will be one sticking in your heads for months to come while “So Into You“. brings the rock groove back into more uptempo mode with a killer main riff driving the entire track.
Rex Brown saves one of the best for last in “Best Of Me“, a trippy and lush number that draws a landcscape that is musically wide and open. Mixed in with a beautiful organ giving the song a very 60’s and 70’s feel in the vein of Pink Floyd and The Doors, this one may be the most surprising out of the lot and will be remembered the most in many ways. “Smoke On This…” is an all round solid rock album, it will surprise many but it will draw in both the curious and the hardcore fans both from the old school metal and rock side of the coin. I can’t wait to see what Rex will follow this record with on his next release.
Get Yourself Alright
What Comes Around Goes Around
So Into You
Best Of Me