REX BROWN – Smoke On This (Album Review)

Smoke On This” is a bit of a surprise. Being an album release by Rex Brown from Pantera and Down, one would expect a heavy rocking album. There is some heavyish stuff on it, but it owes as much at times to artists like J. J. Cale and Buffalo Springfield as to Sabbath or AC/DC.

The title I suppose could be taken two ways. As a member of bands that have encouraged smoking hash and having a singing voice that suggests a heavy smoker, it could be a literal reference to inhaling. Yet it could also be a “fuck you” to anyone that has a problem with the style of the album. The opening has him uttering the title before the chords kick in.

It floats between old school 70s rock and country (not western though) and is an album that works rather nicely later in the evening when chilling. There is nothing particularly original and there are moments that I can hear things that sound like other songs from a while back, but it is engaging enough and has enough variation and vibe to make it a worthwhile listen.

The first song “Lone Rider” has a sleazy sound but has an edge which makes me think of The Almighty and even vocally has a tad of Ricky Warwick about it (to compare, perhaps check out “Little Lost Sometimes” or “Jesus Loves You… But I Don’t” by the latter). This is old school rock.

Crossing Lines” opens up like the little brother of “Back In Black”, but with a vocal similar in style to Gene Simmons from Kiss. Later on the album, there is a bit of Eastern mysticism in “Get Yourself Alright”, being a cross between a Led Zeppelin track and Saigon Kick.

On the other side of the equation we have “Grace”, which is like a lost song by the late J. J. Cale. He is not the first Southern artist to be influenced by him as Lynyrd Skynyrd did cover songs such as “Call Me The Breeze” and “I Got The Same Old Blues”.

He even goes a bit Pink Floyd on “Best Of Me”, which also harks back to a 60s Peter Green Fleetwood Mac drum style and sound. It doesn’t only work, it works very well!  The chorus is more upbeat and hard rocking. One of the best tracks here.

Other tracks worth mentioning are “What Comes Around” with its chugging riff and very infectious (and sarcastic) chorus and the very last track “One Of These Days”, which builds up really nicely and turns into a very hopeful sounding and uplifting song and (for me) vies with “Best Of Me” for top track.

I would say that, as a whole, I am pleasantly surprised at “Smoke On This” as it is the type of album that I enjoy relaxing to. It rocks in places, but has a lovely feel and sound to it. His voice is smokie and a bit gruff but has feeling to it.

An album for rockers that enjoy something more reflective, but with some groove.

Buy: Smoke On This

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