Lacking in any sort of familiarity with Mountain or any of West’s previous solo efforts, it would be fair to say that ‘Unusual Suspects’ was approached with a fair amount of trepidation. The rock Valhalla line-up of supporting guitarists gave a fair indication of the calibre that West is held in, so fears were at least temporarily allayed.
‘One More Drink for the Road’ begins innocuously enough; a swampy run-through with enough dynamic fretwork to keep it interesting. The dubiously-titled ‘Mud Flap Momma’ is an entirely different prospect altogether. Opening with a box-stomp kick drum, it scuttles like a disconsolate tramp around a barbed-wire riff; Slash remaining utterly restrained in adding some fantastic accents and great interplay with West. Lyrically, it’s bollocks; but that is generically irrelevant, regardless.
‘Unusual Suspects’ manages the almost unheard of feat of not letting the guest stars outshine the main attraction as well. Whilst ‘Standing on Higher Ground’ may as well be a ZZ Top track; ‘Nothin’s Changed’ displays a pleasantly subdued effort from Zakk Wylde. It’s seemingly rare that artists pay decent tribute without whipping it out for a pissing contest. And to West’s credit, he keeps up with Wylde with little to no effort whatsoever.
Sadly, the poor points are pretty awful. A pointless cover of ‘I Feel Fine’ is utterly to the detriment of the latter half of the album; and otherwise standout track (and strangely reminiscent of Chris Cornell) ‘To the Moon’ has some truly abysmal lyrics laced throughout. However, for an induction into the blues-soaked arena of Leslie West, it could be far worse; and there is enough quality on display to make a dabble worthwhile.
Matt Crane says….
For more info on Leslie West and Unusual Suspects click HERE.