(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
The last thing we heard from Wild Turkey was the 1996 comeback album Stealer Of Years. That was a nice album and this one is nothing to sneeze at either. If you’re not familiar with the band, Wild Turkey was formed by bassist Glenn Cornick after he left Jethro Tull in 1970. They released two excellent albums Battle Hymn and Turkey before eventually dissolving in the later part of that decade. If you haven’t heard them you’ve more than likely heard some of the members when they played in other bands. Vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins appeared on a couple classic Rick Wakeman albums and John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers played drums for a little band called Gentle Giant. Although guitarist ‘Tweke’ Lewis is no longer with the band, there are several older members here along with a few new ones.
Gary’s voice is a little grittier these days and he sometimes reminds me of Roger Chapman or Dan McCafferty of Nazareth now. I guess you could say he’s showing signs of age but he’s aging like a fine wine. His vocals go so well with the gun slinging tandem guitar work of Mick Dyche and Graham Williams. These two steal the show most of the time with some excellent bluesy riffs. Cornick has a tough job keeping up with these guys but he handles things nicely. Along with Weathers, the drum duties are handled by old Tull-mate Clive Bunker. There are several guests on the disc as well.
Even on the early albums, the Wild Turkey sound was never about symphonic sounds, loads of keyboards and operatic vocals. The focus is more on heavy rock and roll and the new one is no different. They do add in a few extras here and there, to keep things interesting. For instance, the middle section of the title track contains some really cool jungle sounds with a tribal rhythm thing and the track “Northern Lights” features some bagpipes and accordion played by Nigel Hopkins.
The album has many great moments and what stands out the most is the fact that these guys are having a great time playing music and aren’t worried about the pressures of record company expectations. While this may not be another Battle Hymn, it is a very respectable album. In today’s world of ambitious youngsters that are all trying to be the next big superstars by whatever means they can, it’s great to see a bunch of old boys getting the job done and making it look easy.