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The Darkness exploded onto the music scene with a huge hit with "I believe in a thing called love" from their debut album in 2003. Industry awards came their way. The album sold 3,000,000 copies and rocketed the band to dizzy heights from which they fell as their lead singer, Justin Hawkins increasingly self-destructed on alcohol and cocaine.
This decline was inevitable in my humble opinion. Why? Because, despite having two of the most talented guitarists to ever lift a Les Paul in the Hawkins brothers and some songs that truly showcase that ability, the weak link remained Justin's continued and sustained reliance on falsettos. If he had practiced a few lower registers and known when to dial it back, you would have a slightly camp British rock band worthy of being successors to Queen. What could have been, compared to what was.
By the same token, the blame can't be laid at Justin's door. They were a group, and it does look as if they all chose to put Justin as front man. He is supposed to be an excellent showman live. It is just personally frustrating to me seeing how close they frequently came with this album to perfection. An opposing argument could be made that without the differentiator of all that squealing, they may never have soared so high, along with UK demand for Bolivian marching powder.
1. "Black Shuck" 3:20 - There is no single indication of any track on this album that indicates greatness and failure as succinctly as this one does. It begins with a lone LP chugging out a great riff, joined by another with even more crunch. If you're not banging your head along by this point, you're probably wearing a neck brace.
Then in comes the fly in the ointment. The spanner in the works. Seagull to your ice cream. The falsetto has landed. In a second, the mood is broken and what began so wonderfully becomes something increasingly irritating.
2. "Get Your Hands off My Woman" 2:46
It's round two, and we get more of the same. A great start ruined by over-expressive and rather silly lyrics. If the rest of the album was like this, it would have rightfully sunk without a trace. But have patience, true believer. There is better to come.
3. "Growing on Me" 3:29
Finally, the sterling guitar work is matched by some great lyrics and emotion. Justin demonstrates that he is capable of a little restraint. There's still falsetto a - go - go, but it doesn't completely overpower and dominate. Some truly great fretwork can be heard near the end, and you're left with a smile on your face. Not such a bad buy, after all.
4. "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" 3:36
Their most recognised track, with some signature riffs that are marvellous fun to play. This one song encompasses everything that was great about The Darkness. Infectious, fun, a little silly and great to rock out to. It's a bit like running through Machine head, thinking its generally ok, then running slap bang into Smoke on the water.
5. "Love Is Only a Feeling" 4:19
It's lighter in the air time as this ballad starts. Some great builds and choruses. Yes, the lyrics become cheesier than a gorgonzola factory sitting on a cheddar mine, but it is paced perfectly and represents a welcome break from warp speed back down to impulse power. You can really cling on to this one (ok, enough Star trek puns)
6. "Givin' Up" 3:34
This one should be renamed "The Justin song" as he cheerfully sings about blowing all his money on drugs. One of the first sections is "But I won't apologise, I'd inject into my eyes If there was nowhere else to stick my skag.". The Locomotion, it's not. It may be a little tongue in cheek, and it may be fun to listen to, but there's a darker side among all the chintz.
7. "Stuck in a Rut" 3:17
This one's plain nuts. It's about having enough, and driving away, anywhere, as long as it is away. You get the impression that this is a subject that resonates with the singer. Getting all Freudian for a minute, it might explain why a casual habit became increasingly a place "away" that he chose to spend more and more time in. It's a fast song, frenetic, with an urgency that for one seems to have little humour in it.
8. "Friday Night" 2:56
Cheese. All cheese. Nothing but cheese. It's like "Glory Days", but covered in cheese. And glitter. Moving on.
9. "Love on the Rocks with No Ice" 5:56
A slow burner, and the longest track on the album. It's about a casual affair that will never develop into something more permanent. Justin continues - surprise, surprise - to hit falsettos, but there's more pitch control here than in other tracks like Black Shuck.
10. "Holding My Own" 4:56
Forgettable, except for the temptation to snigger at the title. The album ends with a little bit of a whimper, rather than a bang.
When all is said and done
In summary, this is a at-times-great album. And one that provides instant relief from the deathly tedium of accidentally hearing anything by Coldplay. But when it is at its worst, it unforgivably ruins some potentially great songs, and for that reason I have to lower the rating. If I was allowed a three and a half, I'd go for that. A three is too harsh, so four stars it is.
It's no longer cool to like The Darkness, but there are worse guilty pleasures. Yes. Some of it remains unremittingly silly, but it's not an oblivious Tap like silliness, it bears its glam-rock beating heart in an open cat suit for all to see. And at under a fiver a copy, it represents excellent value. If you love guitar work or the whole T-rex meets AC/DC vibe, it will make a worthy addition to your collection.
I first saw The Darkness perform live as a support band for Staind at Brixton Academy. I have to say that they went down like a lead balloon, and I remember thinking that they were one of the most ridiculous bands I had ever seen. To be fair to them, I don't think their light hearted, tongue in cheek campness came over particularly well that night. I also somehow managed to ignore their catchy lyrics and awesome riffs so when I heard them on CD I was forced to re-evaluate my opinion of them. Permission to Land is The Darkness's first album and is packed full of some entertaining songs. Once you accept them as a bit of a novelty band and go with the flow, songs like 'Get Your Hands Off My Woman' and "Love On The Rocks With No Ice" are awesome.
In terms of sound, The Darkness sound like the deranged offspring of Iron Maiden, Guns and Roses and perhaps a spattering of Def Leopard. Thankfully there is also a healthy dose of irony chucked into this mixture. The Darkness then are a self confessed rock and roll cliché but they are a pretty fun one. There are more widdly solo's crammed into this album than anywhere else in the world of rock and they are sure to have you thrashing along on your air-guitar before long.
To be fair there are lighter moments aswell. What hair metal album would be complete without a ballard or two and in 'Love Is Only A feeling' The Darkness have definitely ticked that box. I only have to hear the opening refrain and images of spandex jeans and men with massive hair flash into my mind. If this album had been released in 1985 I'm sure it would have gone triple platinum!
Permission to Land scores a high 3 out of 5 from me. There subsequent albums would struggle to get 1 out of 5 but that is neither here nor there for the purposes of this review. To be honest I wouldn't mind seeing them again live and rocking out; with my tongue firmly in my cheek of course!
The Darkness were a gimmick band, yes, and they quickly faded into obscurity, but they made one solid album at the height of their 15 minutes of fame, and as an old-school rock album that was a loving ode to the harmless rock of old, it works very well. Here are the stand-outs.
Get Your Hands off My Woman = it is a very crude song, using the C-word and F-word in several variations quite frequently, but it is also hilarious, moreso if you hear the censored version, which changes the C-word to "coconut". Catchy and fun!
Growing On Me = their first single and the one that brought them to our attention, this is in fact a song about a genital growth that intentionally also sounds like a love song. It builds very nicely with the simple guitar riffs before hitting a fast-paced and energetic chorus; it is probably their most thoughtful song, despite having a crude subtext.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love = their most famous song and the one that propelled them to huge success, the song truly evokes the 80s rock vibe that they aimed for, and also works as a fine love song, too. It has an infectious riff that builds to a relentless chorus, with singer Justin Hawkins declaring "I believe in a thing called love, just listen to the rhythm of my heart", in a way that recalls those corny love rock songs. Despite being a parody, it has a great guitar solo and the band are clearly very talened.
Love is Only a Feeling = a bit more melancholic but still a fun song, it has an anthemic tone that is quite ballad-like before building into a heavier chorus, with the other band members getting a chance to do some vocal work.
They might be a gimmick, but they're an effective one, and this is a fun album even if it's simplistic and totally not serious.
This album 'Permission to Land' from the Darkness came out way back in 2003! It was a huge hit at the time with some massive songs that you still hear on a regular basis. I do like this album and so thought I ought to give it a review. So here is what I think of each song.
1. Black Shuck - Quite a heavy rock song. One of the bands downfalls is the use of the F word. I don't mind an occasional bit of language but in this song it's just repeated a lot in the chorus. This means it's not a song I really enjoy. 6/10
2. Get your hands off my woman - I do like this song but again the language spoils it. 'Get your hands off my woman Mother F*****' is the main line. Which again does not do it for me, shame, as it's a real catchy song. 7/10
3. Growing on me- Amazing song. This was the bands debut single, it was not as popular as the next song but I think it is even better. Great rock music and so catchy! Best song the band has ever done in my opinion! 10/10
4. I believe in a thing called love - Go on admit it! You have tried to reach those high notes when nobody is listening. This was the song that made the band. It's just a good fun song! And even if you hate it, you gotta admit, it's class! 10/10
5. Love is only a feeling - Not quite as rock as the other songs. This is still a very good song though. Justin the lead singer really belts out those high notes! 8/10
6. Givin Up - Not bad,but this is not one of the stand out songs on the album. 6/10
7. Stuck in a rut - Your starting to wonder if the band has run out of material at this point. Just something lacking! 6/10
8. Friday Night - This song should not be good, the lyrics are rubbish! But, it works for some reason. It just sticks in your head and is one of those sing along classics. 8/10
9. Love on the rocks with no ice - By this point I am usually switching albums. This is another song that is just not up to standard. 6/10
10. Holding My Own - But your not really are you? Shame they could not finish the album on a high, but they don't. Another disappointing track. 6/10
So overall this album is a strange one. Some fantastic songs, but also some real trash. The bad language really does spoil it in my opinion. If you're easy offended I would not recommend this album at all. However even if you buy it for the two massive tracks as I did, it's probably worth it! 7/10
In 2003 a Rock Band from Lowestoft released their debut album Permission to Land, It became one of the biggest selling albums of the year and catapulted The Darkness from obscurity to stardom. The band consisted of brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain on Bass Guitar and Ed Graham on Drums. They were childhood friends and formed the band in 2000 with Justin Hawkins as lead singer. After playing in pubs and clubs around the country they built up a following and released their debut album three years later.
In 2005 The band released their follow up One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back. Bassist Frankie Poullain left the band during recording for the second album and was replaced by Dan Hawkins Guitar Technician, Richie Edwards. The band have since split up after frontman Justin Hawkins was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic in concern of his health. The remaining members started a band called Stone Gods and have recorded an album which is yet to be released. No news on the album has been released since the end of 2007.
**Permission to Land**
Released in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2003, The album was recorded by Pedro Ferreira and was released on Atlantic Records. All ten songs were written by all four members of the band. Permission to Land has sold More than 1.5m copies in the UK alone and the album won a number of awards including Best Rock Album at the 2003 Kerrang! Awards and Best British Album at the 2004 BRIT Awards.
1.) Black Shuck
This track starts the album of with a 70's style Heavy Metal feel. The catchy guitar riffs are the key to this track. This is a fast paced opening and is although it's a very good track it lacks a little of the spark of the best on the album. But gets the album off to a very good start. The small village of Blythburgh in North Suffolk is mentioned in the track.
2.) Get Your Hands Off My Woman
This is another fast paced Metal track, Justin Hawkins falsetto vocals work a treat on this track which is about telling someone straight "get your hands off my woman motherfucker" I love the pace of this track and the guitar riffs are superb and this song is to be played loud as is most of the album. A slight gripe about this track is that it's a little short at 2 minutes 47 seconds.
3.) Growing on Me
This was a huge single for the Band and is one of the best tracks on the album, a slightly slower affair than the opening two tracks but still has a great rock sound. This track is about when you try and stop thinking about someone but you just cant and they are really growing on you. Just like when you hear a song and it grows on you the more you hear it.
4.) I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Another massive single, this track opens with a guitar effect and then the guitar sounds back to normal, This has one of the best melodies of any Rock track I have heard from an English band this decade. Both Justin and Dan Hawkins showcase their guitar talent on this track. This is one of the best tracks on the album and a real showcase of what the band are about.
5.) Love is only a feeling
This is a fabulous ballad which showcases the band's range alongside rock stompers like Black Shuck and Get Your Hands Off My Woman. This is one of the best tracks on the album and Justin's vocals work a treat on this track. There are Some great guitar melodies on this track and also some fantastic Queen like backing vocals.
6.) Givin' Up
I am afriad to say that this opens with a Status Quo style guitar melody which is pretty basic. It does develop a little but lacks the brilliance of the majority of the guitar work on the album. It's an ok song but could be better if there was a better guitar melody which was a bit more difficult and showed their talent off. So better than Status Quo but not the real Darkness.
7.) Stuck In A Rut
This has a 70's sound about it and has some catchy riffs but although it has a good pace and some good vocals from Justin Hawkins it does not quite have that spark and I feel it sounds like a lesser version of track nine Love on the rocks with no Ice as the melody is similar and the vocals are a lot like they are on this.
8.) Friday Night
This track is about remembering a childhood love and seeing them out a few years on and wanting to get together with them, I feel that this although a decent track does not have the bite of the best tracks on the album and therefore I don't rate this as highly as I do some of the others. So summing up it's Not bad but could be better.
9.) Love on The Rocks With No Ice
This opens with an interesting Metal Blues sound and then the Metal comes to the fore. The catchy guitar riffs go together well with the drums and vocals from Justin Hawkins. His falsetto during the chorus is superb. There's some outstanding guitar work on this track and it's one of the best tracks on Permission to Land.
10.) Holding My Own
Here we end the album with a superb ballad, Holding My Own is in my opinion the best track on the album and hints at a wider talent than many would think. This is a classic ballad which is sung brilliantly in Justin Hawkins trademark Falsetto and some of the guitar work towards the end is superb. They could have done so many tracks like this.
This is one of the biggest debut albums of 2003 and it's easy to understand why when you hear the killer riffs, fine falsetto's and quality tracks that you get on this album, It's a shame that they have split, I hope they do reform and give their fans the album they should have got with the second release One Way ticket to hell and back. The Darkness could be around for a longtime if they reformed and had songs like these.
I was rummaging through my CD collection yesterday, what I have left of it, and came across this gem. I was bought Permission To Land as a present when it came out back in 2003 (wow, how time flies!). I had heard The Darkness before but they seemed a bit too poppy for me so I never really bothered listening to any tracks other than "I Believe In A Thing Called Love", which was played repeatedly on the radio. I must admit after listening to it for the first time, it really grew on me and found it quite a happy and uplifting album.
The Darkness, who are no longer together, were a multi Brit Award winning band who seemed to shoot into the limelight as quickly as they left it. That said, they're still around because Justin (lead singer) is doing his own thing these days, and if you mention 'The Darkness' most peopple will know who you're referring to. They're catagorised as being in the hard rock / glam genre, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's 'hard rock' as such, it's more pop rock based on their image and mainstream style.
You'll find most of their popular and well loved songs on this one album, so you probably wont need to flick through each track until you find one you like enough to listen to. There are 10 tracks:
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Growing On Me
I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Love Is Only A Feeling
Stuck In A Rut
Love On The Rocks With No Ice
Holding My Own
Bear in mind that there are explicit lyrics in this album.
Each track encompasses the rock spirit with electrical guitars, high riffs, drum abuse and edgey falsetto vocals provided by Hawkins. The music is lively and upbeat, so if you need something to lift your mood and get you going this should definitely do the trick! The lyrics can be quite comical in places too which, along with their somewhat outrageous image, makes it an all-round fun album. Notorious for their skin tight catsuits (ooolala!), the band has forumulated a strong bond between themselves as artists, their lyrics, and their music. This means that the music is 'solid', you know it's The Darkness because it's original (not entirely but when it came out it helped to restart the glam rock genre).
I do think that the music is limited in the sense that there's not a great deal of variation in the album and the band didn't have far to go after their initial no1 singles because Permission To Land was so popular it was hard to top. This album may not be everyone's cuppa tea, and it's not something I would have thought I'd rate so highly, but I have to give credit where it's due. They may not be together anymore, but this album will stay as a benchmark in the music industry so it's definitely one to check out if it doesn't already have a home in your music collection.
With British metal in the new millennium about as relevant and visible as the Oasis drummer at the Brit Awards the arrival of these guys on the scene was the breathe of fresh the music biz so needed. When an act as tongue-in-cheek and unexpected like this breaks, sneaking under the radar and barbed wire of metro cool, they are either a marketing hype exercise or very lucky. I suspect its not the later but the old rocker inside me still wants to believe that Denim Jackets and bullet belts will one day return, the Zip lighters once again raised at the NEC.
What can you say about the Darkness that hasnt already been said. They have come and gone as the great white hopes of classic rock before I could even write this review, the Hawkins brothers falling out over the usual things siblings do, the band disbanded, the lime green dungarees long since packed away in a Felixstowe attic. Serial killing is the big news around these parts now.
Like their spiritual home of Norfolk, everything was wrong about the band from day one, to be as big as they briefly were as far as success goes. The timing was atrocious; the vocals were eccentric to say the least, the constant sneering by the music press a right hook to any credibility. But, refreshingly for the genre, these were just a bunch of guys having a laugh that got lucky, Im sure never dreaming this record would eventually shift two million. Only US skater rock punks were doing that sort of business bending guitar strings how they were meant to be. Alas, the music press that accidentally made them couldnt resist turning up their noses to destroy them. Another follow up and not so acclaimed difficult second album and that was that. At least, for one small moment at the tail end of the angst ridden nineties some cheeky retro rockers had some fun and got dad back on the dance floor and punching the air. Music had got way too serious in the last ten years and briefly, as a collective, we were allowed to be silly on the dance floor once again.
So, track one and Blackshuck, I believe some sort of mystical Lowestoft legendary monster thingy, great material for true heavy metal cheese and a chance for the irrepressible Justin Hawkins to warble his flamboyant and capricious vocals. Brother Dan (the best looking by far of the musical duo) lays back with some moody riffs and you, the listener, get to learn about the ancient history of Lowestoft. One for the Time Team boys me thinks. Well they do look like ancient rockers. Justin gets to say the naughty word that rhymes with puck and this is indeed a truly awful record to open up your first album.
Moving quickly on to Get your hands off my Woman, what the fans usually say to the band back stage, but here about some mean so-and-so whos stolen Justins girl, who I suspect looks like the Blackshuck! Again not the strongest track but a decent riff and hook to bleed you into the award winning album, teeing you up nicely for the two big chart hits up next.
The first of the hits is the best track on the CD by far, Growing on You , Justins melodic vocals joyfully all over the place, Dan opening up with his guitar licks like Johnny Mac hitting forehand winners down the line with his particular axe. This song is the peak of the bands career and always will be. This is their Radar Love moment. All too short at three minutes long. The song not their career that is
I Believe in a Thing Called Love-dont we all-is the second best song on the album, and I bet the band were getting a lot of it after this album exploded in 2003. Permission to Land is such a fun CD and this track epitomizes that, Hawkins prancing around on stage in the video in leopard skin pants and wrestlers tunics. Boy did he put the tongue into the cheek of big hair rock once again. Nice riff out by Danny boy means this track will appear on many best of Heavy Metal collections, probably already in Jeremy Clarksons glove box, nestled under a pair of white and leather checked mitts.
Love is Only a Feeling, and Im feeling some of it here in this enjoyable power ballad, the double neck guitar plucked straight from a Spinal Tap video, strumming away in my mind. Some say that the Darkness bassist has an uncanny resemblance to Derek Smalls of the said Tap. Smell the Glove indeed! I would not like to know where Justins glove has been on this one though. A cool mid eighties riff (think movie soundtrack) fades this one out.
Givin` Up feeds in with a boogie blues riff, Hawkins vocals shouting things along in his inevitable style, a clap your hand chorus having them all up and on the dance floor at the Barmitzvas, grannies teeth going flying with Hawkin juniors Fender reverb.
Stuck in a Rut has a bit of the eighties Heavy Metal about it, screaming vocals and aggressive rhythm guitar Its a song about people in dead-end jobs that dream of a making it in a rock band. Danny boy again opens up with a hail of string picking bullets on stage, the strings contorted like Justins face and teeth, the meat packers of Bernard Mathews at the Ipswich Corn Exchange roar in appreciation.
Friday Night is a joyous up-tempo romp to take us into the weekend, especially for people who live in market towns. One thing the Darkness isnt is metro rockers, and so not pretentious, lyric wise. They really do sing about the Fens!
Love on the Rocks With no Ice. Hows that for cod rock song title philosophy! David Brent would be proud. Not the best song and a real hint the record (and it turns out the band) is fading out now, very much an album track filler. Its one of those songs that will make you doze off if you have it on low volume on your headphones late at night, awoken by the drum solo, ready for bed.
Holding my Own, not only paints a picture of our Justin up onstage strutting his magnificent stuff in pink and orange, but closes out this frivolous and fun record in appropriate style. The only real ballad on the album it allows Justin to go through his complete vocal range, and the audience to get the lighters out to close proceedings. I can see those arms waving now in Diss, an AC/DC T-Shirt lifted to reveal vulgar tattooed breasts.
Guys, this is a fun record, the Bon Jovi of British metal in the present day. Even the Muslims would let their kids listen to this in the Mosque as its that tame and poppy. This is the definition of fun metal, stuff for the kids party at the posh friends mock Tudor, maybe drive-time tunes for those tired of the cancer of Indy college rock.
You know in some ways the Hawkins brothers record is a statement, an antidote to the predictable and angst ridden British music scene that sees the same bands dominate the trendy awards night. Jasons kind of attitude is the traditional metal one, a tight codpiece ready to fire its cannon, a constriction that has just squeezed the life out of other genres. Our music scene seems to have regressed to reality show winners and mop-topped college boys, and for this record alone we need to give The Darkness a standing ovation for at least putting some irony back into British rock, a place used to taking itself far too seriously of late. The only darkness here is where the British music scenes is right now up its own ass hole.
In an earlier and simpler time it would be sufficient to call the Darkness a rock band and leave it at that, but the modern musical age is a complex beast and so in keeping with the times a new term is needed. In a time when we have Nu-metal, Industrial, Hardcore, Thrash Metal, Ambient, Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, Garage, House, Shed, Conservatory and cupboard under the stairs music (some of which I made up, but you get the point), old school kick arse rock and roll, is now termed Classic Rock. So classic rock it is. In a time when the rock fraternity seem to largely take themselves too seriously, The Darkness seem to have proved that you can take your craft totally seriously yet still inject a humour and theatrical quality to it by poking fun at yourself a bit.
They are also a band that is not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. They not only doff their caps to the great bands of an earlier era, but throw in the jacket and trousers too. The plus side of this is that have established themselves as being the current torch bearers of a well established and well received type of music. The down side, if there is one, is that it does mean that their music is lacking in originality, but once the band are into their stride, that doesnt seem that important after all. I must admit for a while I had a bit of a problem with the band, and it has nothing really to do with their abilities as musicians or performers. Being that I was brought up on the same bands that they obviously were, the likes of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy, they struck me initially as being a bit of a rip off, almost a homogenous tribute band to the rock bands of the seventies. Upon reflection I realise that although this is probably the case, the bands in question had their heyday twenty five years ago and so the audience Justin and his lycra clad rock warriors are aiming for today dont have these albums in their collections as a point of reference. Not unless they have been raiding their parents vinyl collection, now housed in the attic next to the Christmas decorations and the old photo albums, and lets face it, how uncool is that.
So all that aside, what do you get for your hard earned cash? The album springs to life with Black Shuck, a track that could have appeared on The Cults Electric album, its raw, simple and it rocks your socks off. As Justins voice joins the fray you notice two things about his style. Firstly he has a habit of heading of into a falsetto voice which is strange to say the least and for some may be a bit of a distraction, but its nothing if not original. Secondly he cant really sing that well, but then neither could Bon Scott and he fronted one of the biggest rock bands ever, so that shouldnt really be a problem either. As Get Your Hands Off My Women gets going, more sock removing material, you get an inkling of what they are all about. Ok the lyrics leave a lot to be desired but the music is a refreshing change to all the sledgehammer beats and tortured soul posturing of todays rock bands. Here there is power, melody and a groove, remember that combination. The next three songs will be familiar to most, as they have all been given a lot of airplay. Growing on Me is and I Believe in a Thing Called Love, contain healthy doses of Thin Lizzy lead guitar, Queens finer moments and AC/DCs simple blues based structures, all powered home with an attitude and a desire to entertain, and more excruciatingly high vocals from the front man. The secret to the high vocal apparently is to play songs in the key of H, a little known key that contains some secret notes that most people are unaware off. Jimmy Page was one of the few aware of this key and needed a guitar with more than one head to reach its higher notes. Someone once suggested that the songs should be played in the Quay of Southampton, but thats just cruel. (I do talk some rubbish at times)
Love is Only A Feeling is a more AOR style power ballad and for my money is selling the band short of their true calling, but hey.. its their band not mine. Givin` Up puts things back on track; Free meets Status Quo in this infectious Rhythm and Blues stomp, the beat reminiscent of Tom Robinsons 2-4-6-8 Motorway, strange! Stuck in a Rut is more of what you by now come to expect, A/C Lizzy or is it Thin D/C? Friday Night is a more layered beast, I dont want to harp on about Dublins finest, but its a tune that Brian Robertson would have knocked out in his hey day with ease and the lead guitar sound is identical, not that thats a bad thing, the twin guitar attack of yesteryear is something that The Darkness do very well. This song shows a more poignant side, wistful and introvert in comparison to their usual brash offerings, Love On The Rocks (With No Ice) is the total opposite, blunt and unsubtle a slow paced leviathan of a sound, an album track but better that a lot of rock bands singles. It shows that the band are able to maintain a high quality of tunes, their fillers are better that many peoples best efforts. Ending with a down beat yet beautiful ballad, Holding My Own (ohh-err missus) 10 songs seems a slim musical offering these days, but you are certainly left wanting more.
In an age with no guitar heroes, The Darkness deliver exactly what is needed, old school classic rock for the current age, its glam, its theatrical, its camp, its over the top, but above all, its still rock and roll to me.
Two years ago, opinions about The Darkness were pretty polarised. Some thought they were the saviours of what had turned into a rather grim lifeless music scene, others thought they were the hype to end all hypes. When they shot to fame Bruce Dickinson reportedly endorsed them warmly, while Lemmy of Motorhead dismissed them as a cabaret act.
So how good are they, or more to the point, how good is their debut (and to date only) album and how does it still sound?
One of the problems confronting any new group of the 21st century is that, no matter what musical furrow they plough, somebody else has already been there and done that. Have all the great records whether hard rock, rap, electro, folk/roots, jazz been made already? If so, is there room for young guns still out to emulate them if not do better? Let the punter decide.
The Darknesss influences are blindingly obvious. Queen (early), Def Leppard (whom they supported on tour in early days), Rush, AC/DC, Sweet, Led Zeppelin you name them, and you can hear them somewhere. Its surely no coincidence that the CD itself is designed to look like an early 70s original Led Zeppelin album on the Atlantic label. And the not very PC cover concept, a young lady on the front and back wearing high heels and not much else concealing her, er - modesty beneath a couple of table tennis bats, probably represents everything that Guardian readers were spluttering indignantly about when the band were still in short trousers.
As for the songs themselves, just ten comprise this set. On the whole theyre fairly short, which means no interminable ego-trip solos, but on the other hand not particularly good value for money.
Black Shuck kicks proceedings off, and sets the template for much of what follows. Some good fierce guitar riffing, thunderous beat, all well to the good. Not so brilliant are the lyrics. OK, we all swear sometimes, but it doesnt take much to guess what rhymes with Shuck. The chorus sounds like a gang of kids who have just learnt some naughty words and are trying them out because they think its funny. It might be for about five seconds then it gets boring. And Justin Hawkins falsetto is unmistakable, but also well-nigh unstoppable. All things in moderation - just dont go overboard, right?
Get Your Hands Off My Woman follows. Hard rock by numbers it may be, macho posturing et al, but then thats what the genre has often been about. Its OK if kept in relatively small doses. Next.
Growing On Me and I Believe In A Thing Called Love were both released as singles, and they were the right choices. What puts The Darkness, and other bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard et al, ahead of many of their peers is their ability to come up with a decent hard rock song (or several) with enough pop sensibility to appeal right across the board. On these two tracks, they did it.
Love Is Only A Feeling may possibly be misplaced as track 5, in view of the previous tracks title maybe the irony was intended. Anyway, this is a damn fine ballad, with Justin double-tracking harmony vocals to good effect (I assume its thus, as none of the other guys are credited with backing vox), really nice lead guitar intro, and a section near the end where everything cuts out for a few seconds except for a lone acoustic guitar. Oh yes, they also use what sounds like a mandolin part of the time, or possibly get the effect on synth as again no mandolin is mentioned on the credits. Whatever it still sounds great.
Givin Up, on the other hand, shows at the same time whats good and bad about the band. Insanely catchy intro on the guitar chords smacks of vintage Status Quo, Stones even (think Happy from the latters Exile On Main Street), and that I defy you not to sing along refrain so far so good. I could have seen this unleashing many air guitars and much air-punching in my college days at the SU discos. It might even have been prime Radio 2 playlist material, possibly, had it not been for the swear words. At the risk of turning into Mary Whitehouse or John Humphrys, was it necessary? The lyrics are about drugs, by the way.
Stuck In A Rut injects a bit of funk into the proceedings. Shades of the 70s US southern rock bands, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, its all right, but the constant repetition of the title and and overdone screaming tend to grate after a while.
Friday Night, lyrically, is probably the best of the lot (though The Darkness would probably admit that lyrical prowess isnt their strongest calling card) bittersweet memories of first love and schooldays, participating in sport during free time just in order to be with the one he loves. Ray Davies always did this kind of thing better, but pitting the group against one of the UKs premier songwriters of all time isnt exactly fair. And at least the more OTT elements of their music, like Justins falsetto, are kept firmly under wraps here.
Love On The Rocks With No Ice is the longest track here, close on six minutes long. Musically, this is probably the closest it gets to early Zeppelin in construction, or even shades of Cream on the opening guitar riff, being a little on the slow side (thats as in bluesy mode, not in ballad). All right in a kind of late 60s retro way.
Finally, Holding My Own reverts to the power ballad template, not unlike similar fare from Meat Loaf, minus the theatricals, Boston, or Bon Jovi. For once, Justins falsetto vocals work really well here, and with a nifty balance in dynamics between the melodic guitar soloing and that power chorus.
Having been playing this album at irregular intervals for the last year or so, Im still in two minds about it. When its good its great, when its well it could do a lot better. Something in me rather likes the idea of having a group around who can be riotously unfashionable and still top the album charts. Id sooner listen to them than probably 80-90% of the other bands who made their debut around the same time. But a bit more quality control and harder work on the lyrical front would have ratcheted this up one star if not more.
Still, theres the second album to come. Word has it that theyre working on it with producer Roy Thomas Baker, who originally shot to fame after working with Queen on Bohemian Rhapsody. Surprised?
Prices - £9.99 Amazon (and expect to pay about £12 on the high street), or armfuls on Amazon Marketplace from £1.99
Permission to Land is a great album - might as well get that bit clear from the start! Every track is fantasticly entertaining rock performed by a band of entertainers - which for me is what sets it apart from so many other rock albums out there. Not since Queen has rock music managed to entertain in quite this way - guitar solos everywhere - high-pitched falsettos - long hair - catsuits - just a pure unadulterated exillerating rock! There have been a fair few great rock bands in recent years - but since 'Indie Rock' in the 90s, the emphasis has tended to be on emotional, difficult, challenging music - take Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and White Stripes as obvious examples of rock bands that take you on a journey and spit you back out again at the end of it, leaving you unsure of what exactly just happened. Don't get me wrong - each of these bands is amazing in its own right and has left its mark indelebly on the hearts ands minds of millions across the world. But you wouldn't exactly pop them on to cheer yourself up and get ready for a good night out! Then you've got the other end of the market - completely commercial, instantly forgettable pap, which leaves no mark on you at all. Well with the Darkness you've got a bit of both methinks - it's 'rock' enough to keep people with long hair and black t-shirts happy - but it's 'commercial' enough to keep everyone else that would never dream of seeing live music happy - and indeed those that hate every other rock band around. Part of this mass appeal is the band themselves - frontman Justin Hawkins is clearly a geeky-looking normal bloke having a great time - there's very little not to like about the man. Their recent Brits performances knocked everything else that night out of the water (apart from Muse and Katie Melua of course) - it looked like they had put some effort into it and were there to entertain. I for one can't wait to see th
em perform at Reading later this year. Then there's the videos - again entertaining and memorable rather than some high-budget mass-produced shite. And then, most importantly, there's the music itself - not particularly deep, but thoroughly enjoyable air-guitar, leg-drumming, shrieking along with stuff! Let's look at the singles - 'I believe in a thing called love' is the one responsible for me liking the Darkness in the first place, as I'm sure it was for most other Darklings - epic guitar riffs, instantly memorable lyrics - something completely different from everything else around at the time. The song's success took many people by surprise - after all it was just 4 normal blokes, who hadn't even managed to get a record deal until just a few months before and had performed near the foot of the bill at Glastonbury not long before for 70 quid. The previous 2 singles, 'Growing on Me' and 'Get your hands off of my woman' hadn't enjoyed massive success in their own right - both tracks are on the album - the first is probably the most comical few minutes to be found throughout and certainly one of the most high-pitched! And it's got motherf***** and c*** in it which always makes you pay attention when you're not expecting them!! 'Growing on Me' does exactly what is says on the tin - didn't find it instantly breathtaking, but after the 4th or 5th listen it's every bit as godd as anything else on there. The Christmas hit is missing from the album unfortunately, but the most recent hit, 'Love is only a feeling' does make a welcome appearance - bit more of a emotional and expansive one this - rather more 'grown-up' than some of the others and probably my personal favourite at the moment - not so many high notes to reach either! For those that haven't heard it yet, it's a song about the fact that love is not a real thing, just something a feeling
that can come and then go again. Goes well with 'Holding my own', a song telling us how Justin is coping following a break-up: 'I'm holding my own, give or take a tear or two, I'm holding my own, no matter what I've put myself through.' I'm holding my own' Apart from the four singles, the other 6 tracks stand up very well indeed - 'Love on the rocks with no ice' is possibly the most 'rock' of them all - nice traditional rock finale as well - you know the kind I mean!! 'Stuck in a rut' is another of the best on the album, a song about how he's had enough of where he is and wants to turn his back on it all and just do something new - a feeling that I'm sure we've all had at times! All in all, there's not a bad track on the album (tell a lie - 'Black Shuck' is a bit naff in my mind!) and can be played over and over again without getting anywhere nearly slight bored with it - excellent investment, that enables you to be in with all the in crowds and one that you can stick on painfully loudly in the car and not feel in the slightest bit embarrased! Classic....
Music journos and rock critics have ummed and aaahed about the ironic value of The Darkness and their significance in a post-modern age; does their triumphant explosion onto the music stage with spectacular fireworks and arena pyrotechnics lighting up the dreary trudge of Top 40 music signify that we're now into post-post-modern? Is it a joke? Are they a novelty act? Well... does it matter, when the music's as refreshing and fun as this? They quite obviously don't take themselves seriously - no man in a spandex catsuit rightfully should - yet this album vividly demonstrates that its possible to ignore traditional notions of a joke band in the face of awesome songs. It may be a bit tongue in cheek; but it's also earnest enough to provide entertainment without having to constantly approach it with an ironic squint. We've all heard the singles; "I believe in a thing called love", "Get your hands off MY woman" and "Growing on Me", and fine little nuggets of 70s-influenced singalong raaaaawk they are. This is The Darkness template; huge, solid riffs and pounding drums underneath Justin Hawk's near-comical falsetto and power-choruses. They also find room to absolutely nail the art of power balladeering in "Love is only a feeling", which is both funny and moving, and allude to heroin addiction in "Givin' up". You know what to expect from the Darkness. C'mon; buy this album and have it instantly lift your mood.
Unknowns to ultimate rockers - Advantages: 18 months ago unknown, now one of the biggest Britsh rock bands in the past 10-15 years, need I say more., Fact: Busted can't play Guitars, neither can Mc Fly i can name others, but I won't. The Hawkins brothers can really play, they are the embodiment of pure Guitar Genius. SO what if its been done before, it's cool!!, They're British- About time we had a DECENT Rock band! - Disadvantages: i Accept it has been done before! But thats the thing all other music out today has been done somewhere, sometime, these guys are just better and more... overt
This fantastic band is an example of the new Queen of this generation! When i first heard their music I must admit i raised an eyebrow and turned over the channel but until my Dad (!) bought it for my Fiance for christmas I have not been able to get the music out of my head! (Probably because he has played it constantly since boxing day!) It is a highly refreshing album for even the not-so-into-rock people. The band were formed in 2000. The lead singer, Justin, and guitarist, Dan, are brothers. Dan moved to London in search of starting a band and met Bass player Frankie. The drummer was an old schoolfriend of the brothers who stayed in touch for years. Justin entered and sang in a karaoke - guess what song it was? Yes, it was Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen!! And thats when his big bro suddenly saw the future, and after a couple of phone calls The Darkness were formed!! This debut album, featuring their hit singles*, consists of 10 tracks. 1. Black Shuck 2. Get Your Hands Off My Woman * 3. Growing On Me * 4. I Believe In A Thing Called Love* 5. Love Is Only A Feeling* 6. Givin' Up 7. Stuck In A Rut 8. Friday Night 9. Love On The Rocks With No Ice 10. Holding My Own Some of the tracks lyrics contain obscene explicit language so maybe this isn’t for the light hearted. It is sure to make you cringe during some of the higher notes on various songs but this album is certainly for someone who doesn't care what the neighbours think and wants to feel revitalised, rather than depressed, after a wild rock session! As apposed to alot of other heavy rock groups around, this band ultimately succeeds in creating heavy rock sounds - in tune! 'Love is only a feeling’ is the most recent single released. And it is one of my favourites. Although a little more toned down compared to some of the bands more hyped tones, they still manage to slip in the grungy guitar-gripp
ing sounds that they produce as a band while Justin pelts his voice into choral enthusiasm come the chorus. ‘Get you hands off my woman’ was just what I was talking about when mentioning the strong use of language (single edited for radio), but their teeth clenching rock and roll enthusiasm throughout the track really expresses what the song is all about; “I've got no right to lay claim to her frame But you soiled my obsession You c**t Get your hands off my woman m*f**er Get your hands off my woman m*f**er “Octoped, you've got six hands too many And you can't keep them to yourself You're too fat and too old to marry So they've left you on the shelf” 'Friday night' , a lively love ballad, really promotes their sense of humour; -"Got ping pong on Wednesday, needlework on Thursday, dancing on a Friday Night” Its a song which remembers old days at school when joining in on extra-curricular activities just to spend time with someone, in their case a girl. Many of the tracks on this album will have you seriously doing the air guitar in your room/house/flat, at the bus stop waiting for the number 15, wherever, even if it’s a mere tapping of the foot. Their hyper and ecstatically gritty rock act reflects through songs such as the closing ballad ‘Holding my own’ and the well known hit single ‘I believe in a thing called love’. It appears they are very much influenced by old bands such as Guns 'n' Roses, Queen and Iron Maiden but its just what the music scene needs. Just as the presentation of rock bands became lacking in real self expression, along comes frontman Justin in his pink spandex and rollercoaster-resembling vocals, Frankie in his headband and thick moustache, portraying a real rock legend, entwined with the real talent of Dan on his Guitar and Eds drumming. So fa
r from any of this manufactured 'stuff', this band truly is original - serious artists who write and play their own music. They dominated the Brits on winning 3 awards for Best Album, Best Group and Best Rock act and also nominated for best album. Go out and buy this! A band who express their creativity in their music, lyrics, and, ahem, dress sense! Im hooked, you will be. Running Time: 73.42 minutes Mono or Stereo: Stereo Studio or Live: Studio Label: Must Destroy
Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean roughly three to four times a week, the music media gather together and decide to dub a band “the future of rock”. Sometimes they’re right (The White Stripes), sometimes they’re wrong (The Thrills). However, did anyone expect glam-rock, yellow-toothed, English born guitar maestros The Darkness to be next? Not even Mystic Meg saw this one coming… Most of us, and this includes me, are sick to the teeth of The Darkness’ “stage antics”. They’re not clever and they’re not funny (e.g. Justin’s feather from a chicken’s arse joke at the Brits). Yet, the biggest lesson you can learn about music industry is that it’s all about the music. Forget hype, forget image, forget sales… listen to the album and judge it. If you’re too lazy, sit back and I’ll do it for you! Loud distorted guitar, and high-pitched vocals start the album on the track Black Shuck. Are you Zeppelin in disguise? Not on this track anyway, this is bland rock at its finest, and even has an element of Jimi Hendrix’s Fire about the backing vocals. There is nothing original about this; straightforward drums, mediocre guitar and the vocals are anything but exceptional. He just growls for about half the vocals, and my dog can do that. Plus he can howl just like Justin Hawkins. And strut around like he owns the place. And have his crotch just as clearly on show. Probably smells less too. Justin ends the track with a woof. Woof? More like rough mate. Get Your Hands Off My Woman is a little more like it. Heavy bass that shakes the floor, and falsetto vocals that echoes hauntingly. At first listen you might not think much of it, but within two list
ens you’ll be strutting around in a pink shirt with your chest puffed out singing “Get Your Hands OFFA MY WAAAHHHMAN!” and doing Mick Jagger dance moves. If you’re too young to remember him, try Graham Norton’s walk, it’s all the same stuff. If you’re too young to remember Jagger, you might also want to turn down the stereo as Mammy and Daddy might object to the constant references to…. reproduction. The next song is really GROWING ON ME! HAHAHAHAHA, you see that’s also the name of the song! See what I did there? The Darkness can really shine when they want to, and this song is definitely one of their best. Air guitars at the ready, as there are two funktastic solos which make you wish you had long hair to shake hysterically. Grab a pack of Soother’s, do a couple of scales, grab your balls and try sing along if you dare, but the vocals are so high not even dogs can hear it. Probably. Well, you probably all know the next one. I Believe In A Thing Called Love was the song that really got them noticed and it’s not hard to see why. The clever intro was instantly catchy and commercially appealing, while still getting heavy rockers to make that stupid hand gesture with two fingers. The “rock on” one, the other two-fingered gesture was being saved for their sell-out antics later on. The lyrics are clever (“My heart’s in overdrive and you’re behind the steering wheel”) and the shout of “geeetarrrr!” has become a part of rock history. Yup this is genuine pop/rock and don’t it feel good? Love Is Only A Feeling begins with laid bac
k drums before a wailing guitar riff. Strangely, there’s a hint of tenderness about this one. Where now are the cries of “Get your hands off my woman, I want to f**k her”? Instead we have beautiful vocals telling us “I had seen, I had touched, I had tasted and I truly believed”. Awww, you want to f**k her AND talk to her, isn’t that sweet folks? This is probably my favourite song on the album. It’s just a genuinely nice love song, about a failed relationship and a guy in denial. It’s rare to get this kind of emotion from a rock band, but if it’s as good as this, I’d like to see more. Sadly that run of good songs had to come to an end at some stage. And end it does, with the spectacularly woeful Givin’ Up. Yes the chorus is catchy, but it has as much potential for re-listening as a condom does for re-wearing and with just as nasty consequences if you do. It tries to be original, but it’s too like a hundred different songs before, and nothing makes you think, “I must listen to that again”. It’s tiresome, and frankly I’m fed up talking about it. Let’s just act like this nasty little incident never happened. Stuck In A Rut is even worse. What annoys me most about The Darkness is that it seems like if they think a song is weaker than their better ones, they just get Justin to scream really irritatingly. Also, the unnecessary addition of an evil laugh and cries of “Thank you master!” are unbelievably annoying. There’s a bit of potential in the solo, but the rest should have been left on the studio floor. Next please… Friday Night is a song I have no real opinion on. I never flick past it, but I wouldn’t flick ahead to it either. It̵
7;s a mundane song about dancing on a Friday night that is enjoyable. But so what? A really good song needs more than this, and their usually intelligent solos falter in this song, as it’s simply the tune of the chorus. The intro of Love On The Rocks With No Ice is so similar to The White Stripes it’s scary. There’s a definite echo of De Stijl, and the chorus has the sort of jokey feel to it as do many of The White Stripes’ songs, (“Love on the rocks, we’d do anything for a quiet life, love on the rocks with no ice”). Maybe could do with a little trimming at almost six minutes long, but we’ll allow a little self-indulgence. A blistering, if a little hackneyed solo leads us into the final minute. We’re eventually left sweaty and exhausted. Good stuff altogether. The album ends with Holding My Own, another heavy guitar song. However the vocals are different and have a sorrowful quality which makes this song a laster. One of my favourites, even if it does sound a little like a Meatloaf song. Well a lot like a Meatloaf song actually. That may be why I like it! So ends the most hyped album of the year. Is it good? In parts; in others I’d rather be gnawing off my own arm. What they need to do is stop acting like arseholes and spend more time refining their songs and we have a truly good rock band. Otherwise, I fear a truly terrifying second album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Black Shuck
2 Get Your Hands Off MY Woman
3 Growing On Me
4 I Believe In A Thing Called Love
5 Love Is Only A Feeling
6 Givin Up
7 Stuck In A Rut
8 Friday Night
9 Love on The Rocks With No Ice
10 Holding My Own