“Back in the day, bootleg recordings used to generate a real buzz of excitement, the chance to hear the live performances talked about by the lucky few who were there, and the crappy quality of the recordings came second to the wonder of hearing the content. It's the opposite now of course, with so much appearing instantly on social media from footage captured from smartphones that not only removes the mystery, but the crappy quality almost ruins the memory too.
Fortunately, Pearl Handled Revolver have come to the rescue here with an official bootleg which combines high quality recording while leaving the rawness and atmosphere of the live performance intact – it's a great mix with no airbrushing.
If you haven't seen Pearl Handled Revolver live (and if not, go and rectify this the first chance you have – you owe it to yourself) then this album shows you what to expect. All the signature elements from the quartet are here - raw, gritty vocals, dirty blues, authentic psychedelia, huge riffs and layers that are a joy to experience.
There are nine blistering tracks including opener 'Help Me Down From The Trees', with its breathtaking diatribe on the horrors of modern day social media, the unrelenting boogie of 'Rattle Your Bones', the astounding dynamics of 'Peace By Piece' but 'If The Devil Cast His Net', the title track of the album released this year, gets my vote for the standout of this set, coming to life in stunning fashion.”
IF THE DEVIL CAST HIS NET
The release of the third Pearl Handled Revolver album has attracted huge interest and a positive plethora of positive reviews have appearing online and in the music press…
“Drawing from a number of influences they create a unique atmosphere as its backdrop to this album, and is something to behold as its intensity rises and drops. They deliver an uncompromising slab of psychedelic rock, and blur the lines between the scuzzy grittiness that is present and the grooves they have created. Usually one facet stands out: here everything is in balance; be it the bass lines, the strong drums, the guitar work, or the vocals. It is all in proportion, and perfectly balanced.”
“If The Devil Cast His Net’ is absolutely cracking. It’s eight songs are moody, positively dark and wanton throwbacks… drenched in the acid paranoia of 1967 and coloured futher by the blues based hard rock of the early 70’s, this is an essential listen.”
“If The Devil Cast His Net' is an intense and pleasurable experience. Like all the best psychedelia it expands and enriches the mind. Carl Jung once said "You are a slave of what you need in your soul." I need albums like this in mine.”
“The problem is that to review this album I have to stop listening to it. If it’s playing, I find myself getting absolutely lost in it. It’s a big, thick wall of heavy transcendental psychedelic blues rock, and it’s absolutely, totally, and utterly absorbing…”
The Midlands Rock.
“Despite ‘If The Devil Cast His Net’ being their third outing, Pearl Handled Revolver are a new band to me… what I got was a very interesting, chilled blend of Clapton, The Doors and perhaps something more modern… stoner rock perhaps? Whatever, it’s a mixture of old and new which works very well indeed, like picking the perfect malts to blend for just the right taste…”
The Moshville Times.
“The music here — let’s be frank — is moody, unrefined and sulky even — it is soaked in ash and tears… Perhaps the blues can never be truly defined. Maybe they can only be really felt when they are played directly from the soul. And for that reason we need a band like Pearl Handled Revolver. Unafraid of the dark. Energized by seclusion … They play blues directly from the inner sanctum…”
“In the press release for this album there is a comparison between Tom Waits and The Doors. You know what, I couldn't have described it better than that. This is a very nostalgic sounding record that delivers…”
Heavy Metal Resource.
VENTS MAGAZINE has been placing the band up against the wall and firing a barrage of interesting questions and getting some equally interesting answers including this one regarding the title of the new album… “A very close friend of mine, while describing the scene in his local country pub, passed judgement on the shady rabble present by saying; ‘If the Devil had cast his net in there boy, he’d of had the lot!’. Needless to say that this appealed to me on numerous levels. The charm of its colloquialism, the primitive nature of it’s sweeping judgement and the dark, almost medieval drama it invokes”
Attending a PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER gig isn’t just about their wide range of songs that you are going to hear, no its more, much more than that. It’s also about getting the all important stage presentation just right, so that it creates the perfect ambience. P.H.R. are perhaps the only band who appear at Esquires on a regular basis who constantly put a great deal of detail into how everything looks to the eye. Firstly, they fixed a huge oatmeal coloured Hessian sheet right across the back wall, plus on the top structure of the stage. Wow! just how much brighter and lighter this made it appear to my gaze. Secondly, they projected images from the back of the room that seemingly enhanced the venues basic house lighting set up. The look that it created was simply brilliant.
Pearl Handled Revolver gain hugely by having such damn good musicians, who constantly ply such smooth blues rock, all fused in with some chunky, funky vibes, which emanate from the skilful fingers of organist maestro Simon Rinaldo, with dependable Chris Thatcher adding not only his metronomic drum beats, but some contrasting vocals, its left to Andy Paris to calmly and nonchantly pluck his guitar strings, as well as chipping in with some backing vocalist Lee Vernon, who acts as the bands genial host for the evening. Craggy faced and as with the rest of the band, sporting some facial hair, it’s the permanently etched, cheeky grinning Lee who guides us through what is to be one of my most favourite Esquires gigs of 2015.
A softly spoken, but somewhat spooky and eerie intro, begin the proceedings, which then breaks into Rabbit Hole. Many of the songs that they play tonight will feature on the bands forthcoming third album, (although it’s their first as a quartet) which they hope to release around “March time.” Abstinthe was written while Lee was “Drinking it!” the staxesque stomper Loverman, is you’ve guessed it “For all the lovermen” in attendance. Honeycomb is slower and emotionally powerful for all the long time fans, its pleasing to hear again Going Down, which appeared on the first E.P. back in 2009. This is a most underrated oldie and one where P.H.R. are definitely “Giving it a bejazzle.” With the band initially all smart and debonairly attired, it’s not to be too long before some items of clothing are firstly loosened, or ultimately removed. Mr. Vernon has a rich philosophical approach to the rigours of performing on a bright, hot, sweat inducing stage, by admitting “You aint earned yer money unless yer hairs wet.” His cheeky grin is now to be found at its broadest.
Family and friends are very important to Pearl Handled Revolver, indeed an abundance of both are here, clapping and cheering throughout. Lee’s mum may or may not be playing her own game of Bingo tonight, while Into The Blue is performed “For Olivia.” The popular Rattle Your Bones of course comes from 2013’s This Mountain Waits from that same album, Hello Mary, complete with its heady and intoxicating riff, continues to be my favourite P.H.R. song. This is where the talented quartet really pull together to create something utterly special. A full on earworm. As the set draws to the inevitable closure, the distinctive gravely Vernon Drawl comes to the fore with Peace By Piece.
Indeed, our aforementioned host does bemoan the fact that sadly he was “Born in Olney and not Kentucky!”, and he means the place, not the finger lickin establishment of course! With a dozen of the best in our memory banks, the fellas reappear for a most welcome encore. With a vast collection of songs now at their disposal, we are left to savour You Got It Wrong. We certainly didn’t lads, everybody got it right for a most brilliant evening. Well done to all concerned.
Friday 13 February
“… local blues rockers [PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER} played their best ever Esquires show in their seven year career. I know from chatting amongst friends that everybody was of the same lofty opinion. This promises to be an exciting year for this popular quartet as it will shortly see the release of their third album”
“Extra weight appears to have been passed on to keyboard/organist Simon Rinaldo and he copes admirably. Plus we can now see him more easily on the stage! He is seated right up at the front as he produces and creates such lush textures of sound… the new songs seem to suit the reconstructed dynamics of the band and Andy's caustic guitar blasts are systematically attacked from all angles by the thunderous drum work of Chris Thatcher”
“Pearl Handled Revolver operate on an emotional level that truly touches the soul. Indeed, as "Loverman" and "Into The Blue" weave their inevitable magic, the stage appears to be literally bursting with panoramic songs. Old favourites are blissfully revisited, such as the timeless "Hello Mary"… a PHR show is such a wild entity in itself, twisting and turning. At the helm is vocalist Lee Vernon who is never shy to produce some raging harmonica … and he thanks the audience "for being our guinea pigs" when the band complete the first live performance of "When The Devil Casts His Net". Pearl Handled Revolver end the set with "Rabbit Hole" and it seals the show by this blues rock powerhouse, high on ideas and full on unchiseled character. They exude friendly energy which gently squeezes the heart and engulfs the brain.”
Pearl Handled Revolver delivered an absolutely splendid set. This is a four piece producing a wonderfully rich soundscape of blues rock with overtones of Floydesque psychedelica and Hammond organ retro rock overlaid with great throaty vocals. The absence of a bassist leads to a pleasing degree of musical experimentation and variation. This is a great band constantly evolving and one to watch out for.
‘Festivals For All’
"It was all getting a bit trippy now, a kind of "kid in a sweet shop" syndrome. So many amazing acts, very few disappointments, and after the peak of Stray, the standard was maintained with an awe-inspiring set from Pearl Handled Revolver. The hazy, intense Hammond-soaked set oozed with emotion and this was one of the tastiest sets of the weekend – I'm ticking off the days until their new album is released."
One of the pleasing aspects of this festival is the mix and match of a variety of styles under the banner of classic rock and Pearl Handled Revolver provided a complete contrast- lacking a bass player but with the sound placing a great emphasis on organist Simon Rinaldo, their psychedelic approach called to mind The Doors and there was some lengthy freeform jamming with guitarist Andy Paris going off in unpredictable directions.
‘Get Ready To Rock’
Anyway, the band I’d been waiting to see, PEARL HANDLED REVOLVER, were up next. Two rather fine albums of “psychedelic heavy blues rock” had caused me to fall under the spell of this fine UK-based group. After a couple of numbers I began to wonder why Andy Paris’ guitar was so low in the mix and then, finally, it dawned upon me – PHR are a band in the spirit of the Doors - the swirling keys of Simon Rinaldo are *supposed* to be the lead instrument. It also explained the slightly Jim Morrison-esque presence and gravelly voice of Lee Vernon. Right… no problem. On with the show. After a cautious welcome – I wasn’t the only one to be confused – the crowd got right behind the band ….. who were confident enough to preview a handful of tunes from a third album, ‘Rattle Your Bones’ and the sprawling, ten-minute-plus finale of ‘Peace By Piece’ which went down remarkably well as part of what was one of the weekend’s finest and best received performances.
Pearl Handled Revolver are one of those bands that move you. They do this with their music, with their stage presence and by injecting a little bit of magic into proceedings. Today at Cambridge Rock Festival the four piece entranced us with their own unique brand of heavy blues psychedelia putting in a powerful set that included tracks from second album 'This Mountain Waits' and some new tracks from the forthcoming, as yet unnamed album. This was an hour of blissful sexy grooves, of gloriously dirty riffs and immaculate heavy rhythms. There was a real maturity and coherence to the performance yet it still felt loose, wild and abandoned.
It was time for Pearl Handled Revolver, one of the best sets of the festival. Pearl Handled Revolver's live shows have an electric effect on the audience, with their heavy psychedic and hard rock set. It was a truly sublime experience, and many people continued to rave about the band for the rest of the weekend. Click here for my full review of the set and interview with the band to get the low down on their unique sound
Pearl Handled Revolver. Big keyboard sound, at times very Doors-ish. Very popular and very good.
Things improved a lot with Pearl Handled Revolver. Their organ-driven psychedelic blues was the first real break from the guitar-dominated sounds of the earlier acts of the day. Without a bassist keyboardist Simon Rinaldo filled in basslines on pedals, which wasn’t the only comparison with The Doors. At times the swirling Hammond recalled Uriah Heep. This is a band who have received quite a bit of hype, and they were certainly interestingly different.
‘Where Worlds Collide’
Immediately on ‘This Mountain Waits’, the vibe is “old soul.” The second album by UK-based heavy blues rocking five-piece Pearl Handled Revolver never, ever veers into vintage production or departs from a modern feel, but there’s a classic sensibility underscoring the songs all the same. It comes across in the throaty, excellently-mixed vocals of Lee Vernon and in the synth, Mellotron and other key work of Simon Rinaldo, who fleshes out the melodic depth of Andy Paris‘ guitar while Oli Carter‘s bass and Chris Thatcher‘s drums hold down smooth grooves, tossing a little funk into “The Red, White and Blues” but keeping a straightforward edge to This Mountain Waits opener “Do it Again.”
The sophomore outing follows a mostly-numerical series of EPs and the 2011 full-length debut, Colossus, and with Vernon‘s vocal approach, live-feeling echo and periodically jazz-minded influence in the keys, some measure of Doors comparison on quieter cuts like the riding-on-the-storm “Josey,” “Rattle Your Bones” or the more raucous earlier stomper “Johnny’s in the Basement” is inevitable, and by all accounts it’s not something Pearl Handled Revolver are unaware of. Still, the pervading feel of the album is original, and familiar aspects are offset by curves like the piano-into-organ-led “Hourglass,” which develops some of the band’s moodier moments into a deceptively rich build. Carter provides a classy performance on bass front to back, and while the keys by their very nature sometimes take the focus away from the guitar, Paris does an excellent job in reinforcing the dynamic on a song like “Hello Mary,” grounding the ’60s psych feel of Rinaldo‘s keys with a distorted strum to go with Thatcher‘s hi-hat verses.
A sort of apex seems to take hold with “Rabbit Hole,” which kicks into insistent bursts of low and high end volume before embarking on a winding transitional line that gives This Mountain Waits not only a thicker tonality — probably their “heaviest” stretch of the album as it moves into a darker headspace — but a prog-leaning sensibility as well. Vernon is a steady presence at the fore, but where his singing could easily fall into the category of unfortunate heavy rock vocalists who are way too far in front of the music and over-the-top in their whoa-momma-yeah bluesiness, he’s better balanced all around with the music behind, so that the drama of “Honeycomb” comes across without distraction. Ultimately, as the title line is delivered as the last of the album, it’s the overall balance that is working most in This Mountain Waits‘ favour, since for the aesthetic the band has taken on — progressive, classic, heavy, blues rock — there’s little margin for flubs, and though the tracks sound wholly natural, they’re also crisply presented and clear-headed in where they want to move.
That accomplished feel lends credibility to Pearl Handled Revolver‘s adopting of the more classic aesthetic and the fact that they manage to get through This Mountain Waits without falling prey to the trap of sonic redundancy makes the album even more on the winning end. As my first experience with the band, I found This Mountain Waits to be engaging and cohesive with an individual take on a broad range of traditions, and easily worth the effort of a listen. How they might continue to develop the intricacies presented here is anyone’s best guess, but in the meantime, their blues are infectious.
With blues-rock at their core, Pearl Handled Revolver play it their own way ….. to create an aura of music which absorbs the listener into the myriad of sounds emanating from the speaker. ‘Blind’ is a simple but effective repetition that could easily become a chant as it builds, but is always anchored by the solid bass of Oli Carter and the flitting drums of Chris Thatcher. The vocals are not really delivered in a normal singing way, coming over more often as whispers or shouts and screams, at times coming from a smoky throat and at times seeming quite angelic. Nothing on this album replicates or copies any of the previous tracks, and in a world where originality is becoming more and more difficult to find, Pearl Handled Revolver have handed us a glimpse of their own melting pot of sounds with plenty of variety throughout.
The lyrics are intelligent, and the song writing is very good, and there is a lot of variety spread across the album with mixes of genres and tempos and often in the same song. Its well worth spending your cash on, that’s for certain.
They’ve created their own niche avoiding many of the clichés that blues bands fall into using. The guitars grind with a whiff of fuzz and the rhythm section plays it cool behind the riffs …… it’s music that sounds like its coming up through the gutter from some subterranean blues club that is frequented by a collection of vagabonds and circus freaks tripping on hallucinogens”.
Covermount CD featuring 'Rattle Your Bones' from the album 'This Mountain Waits'.
You can tell PHR are hard to categorise by the mere fact that they've been given the thumbs up by figures as diverse as Wilko Johnson and the late Jon Lord. With this insistent electric piano and whispered vocal, this standout from their second album sounds like some half-remembered dream you had about Tom Waits fronting The Doors. Creepy, groovy and utterly infectious.
Do It Again: listed on Classic Rock Magazine's Heavy Rotation page.
"The retro-rockers from Bedfordshire sounded a warning shot with last year's debut album Colossus. Now they're about to return in May with a follow-up called This Mountain Waits that adds the priceless element of maturity to the mix."
There is something satisfyingly British about ‘Colossus’, the debut album from the Bedford based blues rock five piece Pearl Handed Revolver. It’s an album that basks in the glory of the late 60’s and early 70’s when British bands like The Animals, Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple ruled the world and I can hear elements of these artists woven into the relaxed but hard hitting, psychedelic blues of Pearl Handed Revolver. The thing about this type of music is that it effortlessly transcends the fads and trends of the last four decades and is just as relevant now as it ever has been. You just need to look at the recent success of bands like Rival Sons for proof of that.
This album is ‘Colossus’ by name and colossal by nature containing ten tracks of exquisitely constructed hard rock. Recorded live the studio, the sound is so honest and authentic that I’m sure if you listened close enough you could hear the hum of the tubes in the amplifiers or the squeak of the kick drum pedal. There’s no studio trickery, no bullshit just five supremely talented guys in a room creating music from the heart. It makes you wish that all albums could be made this way doesn’t it?
Anyway, before I get all teary eyed and sentimental what about the songs? Well the album kicks off with a couple of groovy rockers ‘Stone Thrower’ and ‘Maybe In Time’ driven by Simon Rinaldo’s superlative Hammond organ patterns and the intuitive feel of Andy Paris’ guitar. Now I’m a real sucker for the Hammond organ and it (or its modern equivalent at any rate) is all over this album either providing the main riff or just adding colour or texture to the songs. On ‘Woman Made A Man Out Of Me’ the band delve into the Delta Blues with a real down n’dirty riff and some lovely blues harp touches. Vocalist Lee Vernon’s voice has a smokey, roughly hewn charm about it. On this track he sounds like Billy Gibbons after a night on the tequila and it fits the mood very well. The acoustic intro to ‘Resonate’ has a real Led Zep III feel and builds into one of my favourite cuts on the album in all its restrained beauty and power. The rhythm and blues/soul of ‘Stop Me Dead’ is up next followed by another cracking ballad ‘She Can Dance’. The Hammond motif of ‘White Lines’ harks back to the sound that The Animal made famous all those years ago. The album closes with ‘I Will Rise’ and ‘Colossus’, a couple of psychedelic blues monsters, that just drip with menace and emotion.
I just can’t say enough good things about this album which I can truly say is all killer no filler. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself and I guarantee that you too will be captivated by what it has to offer.
A highly anticipated debut album from a five piece Bedford-based band comprising musicians well-known on the circuit. Lee Vernon, who wrote all the lyrics on the ten tracks, is on lead vocals, Oli Carter on bass, Andy Paris lead guitar, Chris Thatcher on drums and Simon Rinaldo on keyboards.
As could be expected from such an experienced bunch it is a very professional effort without fully living up to the expectations that such an ambitious title track arouses. All of the band contributed to writing the music and Lee Vernon certainly commits totally to the vocals and there is an overall freshness of sound which distinguishes Pearl Handled Revolver from those who have dominated the UK blues scene over the years from John Mayall through to today’s kingpins Ian Siegal and Oli Brown.
I love this new group’s name by the way, so apposite conjuring up as it does images of the old time blues scene on the Mississippi steamers. There are loads of really inspirational words in the songs here “Woman Made a Man Out of Me” is the tale of a man rescued from a life of drink and drugs, “Stop Me Dead” is about a man still with quite a lot left to do and highlights some of things he really needs to do and my personal favourite from the album “I Will Rise,” a great song the words of which could be used to motivate anyone feeling weighed down by life’s continual letdowns or seemingly insuperable challenges. “She Can Dance” and “Head” are narratives of the guy feeling fortunate to have met his soulmate and the besotted one who hopes that he has. I couldn’t get into the title track which is the final track on the album, “Colossus” is a bluesy and moody love song. Lee Vernon has a great voice for blues music and the group’s musicianship is excellent, it’s a good album and there is undoubtedly much more to come.
Only a left field band like Pearl Handled Revolver could title their new album 'Colossus'. It's a bold and mostly successful attempt to capture the big feel, the sonic splendour, the powerful songs and the dark grooves that contribute to a faded sense of grandeur that permeates an adventurous album. 'Colossus' is rooted in rock, blues and psychedelia but is tinged with gothic edges. The band's name may convey outlaw imagery, but they are musical outlaws relentlessly pursuing a Hammond driven, alligator growled blues that is consistently anchored by versatile drummer Chris Thatcher.
Fronted by vocalist Lee Vernon, a Tom Waits sound-alike who probably inspires many well worn clichés to describe a bourbon soaked voice that defines the band's heavy style, PHR are a musically uncompromising outfit who sharply divide their audience potential between die-hard converts and floaters. The latter probably can't quite fathom the musical diversity but warm to the inherent jam elements and musical spontaneity.
The truth is that PHR weave in and out of the rock blues format with a mix of deep grooves, hard riffs and heavy arrangements that place the emphasis on feel, melody and dynamics.
The material ranges from the forbidding drone and Doom Metal of 'Woman Made A Man Out Of Me' to the opposite big sky feel of 'Resonate', one of two Americana influenced tracks. 'Resonate' gloriously lives up to its name, being a beautifully judged track full of brushed strokes and a plaintive vocal that is given its context by an intuitive production and lyrics of understated presence; 'You see this man, in who you relented, Broken in two, who just couldn't take it, Still your name, It resonates'.
And it is the way the band manages to shift between different genres that maps out an eclectic but wholly successful musical journey.
Put simply, if you buy into the heavy arrangements, repeated plays bring rich rewards. The adventurous bluster recalls early 70's bands such as Spooky Tooth - right down to the keyboard and vocal parts - and Lone Star (albeit with much tougher vocals here), and just occasionally southern rock.
There's a linear progression that is rooted in Prog rock but played out over sinewy solos, enveloping drones and occasional Americana roots. PHR play challenging and exciting music and having taken the long way home, the album finally resolves itself with a portentous Dead Can Dance gothic veneer and an eastern flavoured Zeppelin wall of sound.
'Colossus' is a coherent album with important constituent parts, ranging from the songs as a whole to the riffs, the solos, the vocals and tone colours. Even the subtle pauses, stops and gentle fades are all an essential part of a bigger musical picture. The arrangements are loose enough for keyboard player Simon Rinaldo and Andy Paris's guitar lines to push their way to the front. And at his best Lee Vernon's vocals dominate the material and being a real dynamic punch, while in lesser moments his diction wavers and he occasionally struggles with his range.
But then Pearl Handled Revolver is a band that seizes the moment and readily takes a chance. They are 'in the moment' risk takers who jam their way through a very organic sounding album to stretch songs to their full potential and take them in unforeseen directions. You can imagine both 'Stop The Dead' and the swampy John Fogerty influenced 'Maybe In Time' becoming live favourites.
And while Lee doesn't quite make the most of 'She Can Dance' - a story of lost love - he's adaptable enough to switch to an effective whispered guttural approach over a complementary guitar and organ figure. It's a song with a hypnotic opening that doesn't quite deliver what it promises and has to rely on a change of tempo to inject an extra dynamic. The band sound happier jamming on 'Head', which finishes with the couplet: And the heart of Saturday night is waiting for me. When the lights go down on you all, you'll be amazed. If your bliss is ignorance, The truth is something you fear'.
'Colossus' is crammed full of ideas and competing musical tensions and when the riffs kick in, the solos soar and the band coalesces as one, there's an intrinsic visceral quality that helps spark a raft of musical ideas into life.
Three quarters of the way in, 'Colossus' gains momentum with the farfisa sounding, energetic garage rock of 'White Lines', which is arguably one of the best vehicles for Lee's hoarse phrasing. But the best is yet to come on 'I Will Rise', a slow building anthem that opens with some gentle pounding toms and is bathed in distant echo laden guitar. Lee produces his best vocal on the album as he evokes the spirit of Jim Morrison while Simon adds expansive organ lines as part of a beautifully layered sound.