by John Kindred
Staff Writer –
We have been down this road before; bands paying homage to the past, attempting to recreate and recapture the essence of an era long gone by. Spanish hard rock act 77 is another one of those groups that pull influences from the ’70s-era Bon Scott-led AC/DC. It is just not enough to say that you can hear the influence of AC/DC because 77 leaves no doubt or pretense that they choose the sound and style that feels and runs true to the heart of the band.
Following up their debut 21st Century Rock with 2012’s Hi Decibels, 77 delivers 10 songs and an additional bonus track. The music is grounded in the vintage sound of Marshall amps, Gibson guitars, gritty vocals, tight percussion and bass rhythms, all coming at you with a raw-live sound that is lean and mean. Under the direction of Nicke “Royale” Andersson at Gutterview Recorders in Stockholm, Sweden, the band laid down these tracks with a purest mindset. They recorded live without effects, which allowed for the natural occurrences in the studio (feedback, studio noise, microphones picking up other instruments) to bleed into the final product and gives the CD it’s realistic and unpolished sound.
It’s hard to say whether their blatant recreation of AC/DC-inspired tunes will deter listeners from approaching and listening to 77. Other AC/DC-style bands have made slight attempts to be different. For example, Airborne plays at faster tempos and is more aggressive. With 77, there is no deviation from the past; the music carries forth on the winds of the blues-hard-rock vibe that is deliberate in its execution and prods along at moderate tempos. They certainly are cut from the same mold, albeit 30-35 years later.
Originality aside, the band has the screws snuggly tightened down, as they can hold their own performing this style of rock. Armand Valeta’s voice is reminiscent of Bon Scott and of Joe Elliott’s performance on Def Leppard’s High ‘N Dry studio album. The rhythm guitars crunch with that mighty Marshall trademark sound, and the solos are filled with pure pentatonic blissfulness. The low end rumble of the bass don’t spark any Billy Sheehan-esque shredding nor do the drums journey to the land of Neil Peart. Honestly, they don’t have to, as this would destroy the simplicity and power of this style of music.
A couple songs do shy away from the Scott-inspired vocals, and this is where the CD loses its oomph. “Gimme A Dollar” sounds more like George Thorogood took over the microphone, and “Promised Land” has a Bowie-esque, Mott the Hoople vocal parade happening. The bonus track wraps up the CD, closing with the 77’s loosely borrowed “trademarked” style. You are who you are, and you love what you love. Some choose to reinvent the wheel, while others accept that the wheel works well the way it already is, which is exactly where 77 likes to live.
Genre: Classic Hard Rock
Armand Valeta – Frontman & Guitar
LG Valeta – Lead Guitar
Johnnie Dolphin – Drums
Mr. Raw – Bass
1. High Decibels
2. (Gotta Go) Gotta Hit The Road
3. Are You Ready For Rock ‘n’ Roll
4. Beat It Up
5. Backdoor Man
6. Gimme A Dollar
7. This Girl Is On Fire
8. Meltin’ In A Spoon
9. Since You Been Gone
10. Promised Land
11. Things You Can’t Talk About (Bonus Track)
Label: Listenable Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10