I first heard of guitarist Dave “Bucket” Colwell with the release of Bad Company’s Company of Strangers in 1995. I’ve always felt like that was a highly underrated album. He also spent time in Humble Pie. So, being familiar with some of his work, I was excited to see he is putting out a new album, 20 Good Summers, with his new band, Buckets Rebel Heart.
Buckets Rebel Heart is Colwell, former 720 and New Torpedoes drummer Paul “Taff” Edwards, lead vocalist Jim Stapley and former Quireboys bass player Dave “Boycie” Boyce. Given the histories of the band members, I was hoping for a strong classic rock-based album. Unfortunately, the album tries, but falls flat in a lot of places.
“Animal Beat” kicks off the album promisingly enough. It offers a rocking guitar riff and shows off Stapley’s voice. It leads into the title track “20 Good Summers.” This is a midtempo rocker that could fit right in on any classic rock radio station. “Rebel Heart” follows and may be one of the biggest disappointments on the album. It’s a slow, paint-by-numbers ballad that doesn’t hit. It sounds a bit too much like “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” especially with the guitar solo and backing vocals.
“The Bridge” is plagued by bad lyrics. “We’re gonna build that bridge. Gonna build it strong. We’re gonna build it straight. Gonna build it long.” Sorry, but I expect more given the legacies of these players. And, they do deliver, finally, on “Whiskeyland.” This one’s a straight-up rocker with fun guitars and great vocals. Unfortunately, they can’t keep it up as “Mexican Sun – El Diablo” is another forgettable slow ballad.
Rick Richards of Georgia Satellites guests on “Radio State of Mind.” The song on its own is a fun track that may have worked better as a b-side or extra track. Within the framework of the rest of the album though, the song seems out of place. Same goes for “Customised Car” with vocalist Lyla D’Souza. A catchy, horn-enhanced song with what may be the strongest vocal on the album.
The remaining tracks (with Stapley on vocals) “When Angels Fall,” “Bulletproof,” “Faraway Blues,” and “If You Need Me” are all mediocre, slower tracks. These close out what is ultimately an unremarkable album. There just isn’t a lot of meat on the bones of these songs.
I was expecting it to be very guitar-driven, but other than “Whiskeyland,” there were no riffs memorable enough to want to come back for frequent listens. Stapley’s voice is definitely a highlight, but neither his voice nor Bucket’s guitar are able to elevate the songs.