Album review, Shake A Leg, Bad Touch, Rock and Blues Muse

By Tom O’Connor

Fans of up-and-coming and ceaselessly hard-touring band, Bad Touch, have reason to be excited about the upcoming October 5th release of the band’s latest album, Shake A Leg via Marshall Records. The collection is a worthy follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 release Truth Be Told, and will have plenty of new fans showing up for the next round of live shows. All thirteen songs are the result of a remarkable group effort that found every member of Bad Touch bringing their influences and favorite sonic joys to the table, all in service to the band and to the songs.

“We wanted the album to embody songs that not only sounded fresh and exciting, but also communicated lyrics that meant something to us on a personal level that our fans could identify with,” says guitarist Rob Glendinning.

Opening track, “Lift Your Head Up” is the perfect welcoming introduction to Bad Touch. The song starts with a friendly but insistent, “Hey you, yeah you, come on over here” from singer and party host Stevie Westwood. Life can be a party and you’re invited to participate. Next up “Hammer Falls” gets a little more serious in tone, as it deals with the eternal problem of friends who are only around for the good times. There is a heavier Southern Rock vibe to this tune, although the chorus felt a bit more like vintage Def Leppard. The effective and slightly wah-wah-ed out lead break would earn a tip of the top hat from Slash. All of this leads to album stand-out, “Too Many Times.” With its stomping beat from drummer George Drewry and a taste of AC/DC in the anchoring riff, this song keeps listeners’ heads banging while still keeping them on their toes with its shifting lyric patterns and sections.

A slinky riff is the framework that holds together the short party ditty “Dressed to Kill.” A good-rocking workingman’s Friday night time-to-raise-hell song will always find an enthusiastic and like-minded audience. The stakes are low but the party vibe is high at the end of a long working week, and these are the sounds you want to hear when ordering that first beer. The big rocking sound continues on the radio-ready “Skyman.” All big chords from guitarists Ron Glendinning and Daniel Seekings are layered over another heavy beat from Drewry.

A smart band knows you have to slow things down in the middle of a big collection like this one. “I Belong” is a heartfelt ode to that hometown of the soul that never leaves you even when you have to leave it. And when you’re out there on the road, searching for connection and trying to figure out what it all means, you’re going to have those human moments outlined in “Show Me What It Means,” where the time for talk is over and the time for sensation has arrived. This trio of songs about something more than a party is rounded out by “Tussle,” which is a multi-part journey of a tune, held together by Michael Bailey’s bass. It sticks closely to the band’s most central humanist themes; being human isn’t easy, but it might be a lot easier if we just admitted we’re all after the same thing… and it isn’t money, it is connection. This is the tune I imagine the band leaning into extra hard and extending when playing it live. A standout on the album.

Back to take-no-prisoners rock on the riff-driven “Take Me Away,” which if you put your thumb on the record and slowed it down juuuust a little, could sound like classic Sabbath with its low riff that resolves to fat chords, until you get to that urgent and more modern-sounding chorus. With the slow, big-hearted love song “Believe in Me” the band again explores the fearful reality that a love can come along when we’re not as ready for as we thought. The mid-tempo “Movin’ On Up” latches itself on to another rocking riff and rides it for all it is worth.

Bad Touch knows how to rock, and after those 11 songs, you know it too. The album closes confidently with a couple of quiet, classically ballad-like tunes. In the acoustic “Slow Tempest” I hear hints of Nick Drake and even shades of Rush in the build up. The message is hopeful here, a reminder that storms are gonna come, but even the worst ones don’t last forever. The album closes on the melancholy but also hopeful “Bury Me (When I’m Gone.)” More complex in music and lyric than the spare orchestration would suggest, the song closes the collection with a challenge to always “Live your life and fight your fight” even when the people who gave you strength are (eventually) unable to fight on with you. It is a reminder that the fight itself is a righteous one and as long as you’re still on your feet and swinging, it isn’t over.

For more information on Shake A Leg by Bad Touch: