Some would likely declare Rock Of The Westies to be the closing chapter on John's classic era. I'm not sure I would agree with that sentiment as he, like Madonna, has remained relevant by continuously shifting styles throughout the years. If anything, I would say Rock Of The Westies is one of John's most underrated albums. Sure, the big hits aren’t here, but it is a solid performance from start to finish.
Medley: Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly commences the album with an addictive energy. I’ve always enjoyed Medley's, and this is no exception. However, you usually hear them at the end of an album, so I find the choice of using it as the lead track to be rather intriguing. Regardless, it works perfectly. Such a good song!
Dan Dare (Pilot Of The Future) is a solid rock/pop tune that I thoroughly enjoy as part of the album experience. As a song on its own, I'm not convinced it has the flair to stand out from the crowd. Plus, to be honest, that outro is rather irritating,
Island Girl is a classic. I love it!
Grow Some Funk Of Your Own in a fantastic song but I find the drum track and percussion is too concealed in the mix. Yes, it provides a solid backbeat, but I feel the song could have been driven more by the beat as my mind has a tendency to get lost in the soundstage.
I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford) slows the album down to ballad pace, but this is such a beautiful song that one can forgive the sudden tempo shift.
Street Kids reminds me of Eric Clapton's style, particularly on the guitar track. It is exceptional and has such an incredible rhythm that I can't find fault in the song at all.
Hard Luck Story starts at a volume that is way too low and while I appreciate the style, it is rather disjointed when listening to the album in a linear fashion. A song such as this would be well suited as the first track on the album. Even on vinyl, Hard Luck Story appears directly after Street Kids on Side 2. It is simply bad tracking, but once the song gets going, the distracting intro is forgotten and it becomes a solid song.
Feed Me is difficult to describe and offer an opinion on. I truly enjoy it, but my mind finds it to be less compelling than other songs in John's catalogue. However, while the vocals could be stronger, I adore the groovy musicality.
Billy Bones And The White Bird reminds me of the song Mona. Yes, I think I listen to a little too much music as well, but I thoroughly enjoy linking music from other artists and genre's together. Regardless, Billy Bones And The White Bird is a solid B-side, despite John's vocal being placed a little too far back in the mix.
Don't Go Breaking My Heart wasn't available on the original vinyl release and is still omitted from the 2017 vinyl re-issue. It was, however, added to the album when it was remastered in 1995. As such, I find Don't Go Breaking My Heart to be a valued addition to the album and a fantastic song to conclude the experience with as it encourages me, more than Billy Bones And The White Birds, to play the album again and stay within John’s catalogue.
Rock Of The Westies, while not John's most creative endeavour, remains underrated and most likely got lost in the minds and hearts of music lovers as it was released in the same year as Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy.
For this review, I listened to the 1995 remaster on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Sonically, it was superb with no sign of unwanted distortion or overly reduced dynamics. While Kevin Gray undertook an additional remaster for the HDCD Audio Fidelity edition in 2013, these versions are extremely limited and cost a small fortune. As I haven't heard this release, I can’t comment as to it being superior to the 1995 remaster, but I can say that what I'm hearing via TIDAL Hi-Fi is more than adequate and I feel it is unlikely that I will explore other, subjectively better, editions.
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