“Smoke” is album number 5 from Drivin N Cryin, released in February 1993 on Island Records.
I got it a few years after as I was trying to get my hard rock fix circa 95/96.
And it was a purchase based on the song titles. When Grunge hit, a lot of the song titles had just one word as the title.
As soon as I saw titles like “Back Against The Wall”, “Turn It Up Or Turn It Off” and “Whiskey Soul Woman”, I was curious. Then I saw that Geoff Workman (RIP) is the producer and engineer so I purchased.
For those that don’t know Workman has been involved in either producing and engineering some massive albums for The Cars, Queen, Journey, Foreigner, Toto, Mötley Crüe and Twisted Sister.
I knew nothing about them and for quite some time, I presumed this album was their first.
But the band was formed in 1985 and had a deal the following year.
Kevn Kinney on vocals/guitar, Tim Nielsen on bass and Paul Lenz on drums are the original members.
The band’s name, Drivin’ N Cryin’, was chosen because it reflected the two directions of the band’s music. Good for driving and good for crying.
In 1987, Lenz left and was replaced by Jeff Sullivan. And rock history would have it that Sullivan was the drummer for a certain band called Mr. Crowes Garden, which later would became known as The Black Crowes.
Afterwards Rhythm Guitarist Buren Fowler joined the trio and this is the band as I know it.
While they released albums in the 80’s, it was “Fly Me Courageous” released in 1990 and with Geoff Workman as Producer, which is seen as “the album” from the band. Certified gold, the album is hard rock the way it should be, without zero hairspray and make up and no label interference. However I didn’t know this at the time.
And three years later, “Smoke” follows in the same direction with Geoff Workman behind the boards again and the same sound.
Back Against The Wall
It feels like a derivative version of “Ace Of Spades” with a “Wipeout” drum groove in between certain sections. And I like it.
She Doesn’t Wanna Go
One of my favourites, especially that Chorus riff.
This one has a Van Halen feel in the Intro riff, but as soon as the Verse kicks in, it’s like Thin Lizzy and in the Chorus its AC/DC.
What is there not to like.
When You Come Back
It sounds like a cut from the “Lies” EP by Gunners.
Patron Lady Beautiful
At 7 plus minutes, it’s a jam out 70’s style cut, slow blues rock with a lot of guitar solos. Another favourite.
It’s a blues rock tune with a metal like Chorus riff.
It feels like some of the early Sabbath recordings when they just jammed the blues.
Whiskey Soul Woman
The Cult comes to mind when I think of this song.
And it’s got the “Strutter” beat which I like. I call it the “Strutter” beat, because the Kiss song was the first song I heard with that snare/high-hat and bass drum all at same time.
What’s The Difference
It’s very Petty/Dylan and I like it.
It’s just a light dirty electric and a vocal melody.
Eastern European Carny Man
It’s like a Bad Company meets Boston track.
All Around The World
Its sleazy in the riff department, very 80’s Motorhead like.
Turn It Up Or Turn It Off
It feels like a merge between “Do Ya” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Vocally, the melodies feel very Tom Petty like.
Once this track finishes there is 30 seconds of silence and “Can’t Fall Off the Mountain,” a hidden track begins like an acoustic camp fire tune.
And I enjoyed this album.
But I lost sight of em as I started getting into bands like Collective Soul, Tonic, Matchbox 20, and some of my 80’s and early 90’s favourites started to release some great recordings circa 97 and onwards.
So if you like hard rock with bluesy overtones and some Petty/Dylan/Lemmy/Lynott influenced like singing, call up Drive N Crying.