Album Review: The Woolly Bushmen – Sky Bosses – A joyful retro adventure
From the beginning of the Woolly Bushmen’s album Sky Bosses you will get a sense of nostalgia, even if it reflects a time you’re too young to remember. You will absolutely hear the Rolling Stones and their contemporaries. From the sultry guitar licks to the organs that pierce the soundscape, listeners are sure to be blown away by this truly unique retro band.
“The Routine” gets the album off in a way that is anything but routine. The organ takes center stage. The rhythm is strange and immediately puts you in mind of international rock music in the 1960s. Part of what I like about this album is that it puts a fresh new spin on these sounds that are literally half a century old. Some of the lyrics are distorted and lost in the sound, but it doesn’t matter. I feel like this should be spinning on a 45 in my suburban home… 30 years before my birth.
“Two Steps Ahead” is actually a two step. Nice play on words there. But beyond that, the song shows listeners the direct connection between the blues (chord progression), jazz (improvizations), and rock (rhythm). It’s great! You cannot listen to this track without tapping your feet. It’s hard to call this “roots” music in the purest sense, but it really puts on display the origins of contemporary rock music.
“Protector of Chesterwick” is a snazzy tune. It feels like something from a movie; the whole style is cinematic and alluring. It really draws the listener in at the beginning of the track. Usually when people say a band sounds like the Beatles they mean the “I wanna hold your hand” happy harmonies from the Fab 4. These guys, on the other hand, remind me of the early days of those Liverpool grimey rockers. It’s the attitude and the sizzle that gets me with this one. There are stretches of plain speak rather than typical singing, but it all transitions to the kind of hypnotic, entranced vocals heard on some of the more active Beatles work over the years. It’s really an exceptional brand of rock music.
“Tweren’t No Foolin’” is a no-holds-barred blues jam with the most out-of-this-world organ work you’ve ever heard. Seriously the whole composition is a level of unique and epic that defies description. The lyrics are difficult to follow, but it seems to be about trying to figure out how much a girl likes him. But beyond that, the depth of the music is outrageous. There are several time changes and shifts in rhythm that all stay happily within the blues while keeping toes tapping erratically. It’s theatrical, dramatic, and rubbernecking-a-car-accident fascinating.
The title track “Sky Bosses” was the first single I heard off of this unique album. From the opening guitars and organ I knew this was right up ETTG’s alley. With subsequent listens I continue to agree with that assessment. It might also be the track on the album that sounds the most like the Rolling Stones. Remember “Jumpin’ Jack Flash?” Try not to think about that song while you listen to this one… impossible.
“Shake Yer Fanger” is ludicrous and you need it in your life. The lyrics again are pretty much unintelligible, but the sheer energy of the performance drips through in each sound. The reverb… is still ringing in someone’s ears. But I will say that if someone asked me to peg a time that this album was recorded, I would never guess even this CENTURY, let alone last year. Crazy cool. The final track “If It’s Alright With You” reminds me of the chill vibe of something like “Paint It Black.” Still rock, but with a much purer vibe to it. The song is actually about not spending the night with his girlfriend; it’s about figuring out the complexities of a troubled relationship. It’s deeply relatable and a nice, almost tender way to end the album.
I did not expect such a sustained retro sound when I originally found this album. But these talented Orlando musicians have a great thing going. The album is wonderful from start to finish. Although I skipped a few tracks here, there really aren’t any “skip” tracks on this album. If you love classic rock but get tired of hearing the same top 100 songs all day every day, take this album with you to your work site and crank it up. It’ll have you getting a lot done and having fun doing it.