Fifty Shades of Lazy album review by Derek Jacombs
I guess these days you’d describe Lazy Fifty as a bit of a retro throwback to simpler times, when guitars shredded and the pub music world was ruled by descendants of Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzie, Led Zep, ZZ Top and any number of guitar rockers. That’s where Lazy Fifty fit in and indeed they do a covers show specialising in exactly that.
But the album – while not straying too far musically from those roots – is all original. I like the cover art and its skeleton designs.
Musically, bits reminded me of bluesy sixties’ trios such as Free though the band strays towards metal with songs such as Round And Round where guitarist Adrian Athy conjures patented death metal tones on his grungy rhythm guitar.
He also shreds away quite entertainingly on a number of songs including Lady In White, which before its big build up marks the album’s first downbeat moment and shares common DNA with House of The Rising Sun. John Coffee Blues, Fly Away, and I’m On The Move also feature fine guitar workouts.
This is very much a textbook definition of blues rock, whether of a funkier variety on Table Full of Ex’s or slow and minor a la Gary Moore, or even with a punk inflection as on the opener Guilty.
THIS AIN’T THE BLUES: A little bit steampunk, a little bit deep south but rock and roll to the bone, Gisborne three-piece Lazy Fifty made up of “screaming eagles” guitarist Adrian Athy (front), drummer and self-appointed eye-candy Trevor Shaskey (left) and bass guitarist Ryan Raggett. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell.
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Rock and roll is here to stay
By Mark Peters
By night they locked the Gisborne rockers in the former psychopaedic institution in Levin. By day, technicians at the former hospital unbolted the doors to record Lazy Fifty’s new album, Fifty Shades of Lazy.
Despite the album’s title, the three-piece is a long way from lazy. The band’s musicians practised the s**** out their songs so they were able to record live at Tsunami Sound Studios in what used to be the Kimberley Centre, says guitarist Adrian Athy. That is, instead of recording individual musicians, then mixing down the tapes, Lazy Fifty played like they might at a regular venue.
“Recording live for me, is the natural, more organic way,” says Athy.
“It’s like the way we play live.”
“There was an almost cosmic moment while we recorded Fly Away,” says drummer Trevor Shaskey.
“It was like the heavens opened up for us, it cooked along so nicely. To have that in a studio — you know something is going on.”
Another spontaneous musicians’ moment occurred during the band’s live recording of Lady in White, a House of the Rising Sun-inflected, skin-prickling love song to a ghost. The hookah-bubbling guitar arpeggios in the intro and screaming eagle solo in the middle only came up in the studio.
Inspiration for the song came from a house in Aberdeen Road Athy lived in and felt was haunted.
“I had an overwhelming feeling of someone in 19th century dress walking through the hallway. Lady In White is the story of a ghost haunting a house, looking for her lover. This guy finds her so beautiful he wishes she’d fall in love with him rather than the lost lover she is searching for.”
Cold Mountain Penitentiary death row inmate John Coffey, the powerfully built black man convicted of raping and murdering two small girls in Stephen King’s The Green Mile, was the inspiration for the deep bass atmosphere of John Coffey Blues.
“Trevor wrote the words,” says Athy.
“It talks about escaping. John Coffey’s dying was his escape.”
The song was a bittersweet release too for Shaskey who was dealing with a personal loss at the time.
In their live shows, Athy, Shaskey and bass guitarist Ryan Raggett revive the bluesy, fire-on-the-mountain, sup-with-the-devil rock sound of the 1970s — but without the drum solos. Graphics on the soon-to-be-unleashed Fifty Shades of Lazy CD neatly sum up the band’s spread-legged, sling-guitar, rock-dog stance. The cover features Defiant Ink tattooist Shaun Allardice’s line drawing of an ole’ lazy-bones lounging on a sofa. Flip the CD over and there the skeleton is again, but in white-on-black, wearing a stovepipe hat and striking a guitar pose — not unlike Athy in full flight and whose own tall hat has a couple of Poker cards tucked into the band.
“By day the skeleton is as lazy as he gets. By night he’s rocking out, and in between are 50 shades of lazy.”
Sure enough, a chequer-board pattern inside the album cover reveals cartoonish skeletons at play — boxing, scuba diving, skateboarding, treasure hunting; one even reaps grim in his spare time.
“It’s a really diverse album,” says Raggett.
“It’s bluesy, rocky”
Its opening track Guilty is even borderline punky.
It’s a short song with a long explanation, says Athy.
“In our shows we tell the crowd ‘we’ve all got extensive criminal backgrounds’.”
“Failed warrant-of-fitness, talking on the cellphone, driving without a seat belt,” says Shaskey.
Band manager and Athy’s corporeal partner Kerry Taggart steers the band back onto the law abiding publicity track.
“No one’s making this kind of music any more,” she says.
“This is old-fashioned, vintage rock,” says Athy.
“It’s kick-em-in-the-nuts rock and roll is what it is,” says Shaskey.