Pushking - 'The World As We Love It' (earMUSIC) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Gaz E   
Friday, 28 January 2011 05:30

pushking176A real curio this; Russian purveyors of classic rock Pushking have become cult stars in their native country with fifteen albums since their formation in 1994. The band's management, desperate for a more global form of recognition, sent promo packages to producers in every corner of this rock 'n' roll world with one, LA-based Fabrizio Grossi whose credits include work with Alice Cooper, Toto, Glenn Hughes and Dave Navarro, really taking to the band and suggesting that they should consider re-recording select songs from their back catalogue with true legends of the rock world in an attempt to raise the band's profile.


The result of this ambitious idea is 'The World As We Love It', the first Pushking album to have an international release, a nineteen song love-in that features a startling who's-who of rock and metal superstars. Actually, nineteen songs is a little rich as track one is a fourteen second intro that consists of the album title being sung and a full-on metal scream.


First song proper, 'Nightrider', is an upbeat Meat Loaf-style rocker that features vocals from ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, as does track two, 'It'll Be OK', which also features the guitar talent of Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt. Both tunes are easy on the ear and Gibbons does well - we're off to a good start. 'Troubled Love' features Keri Kelli on guitar and his sometime boss Alice Cooper on vocals and is possibly the most commercial song that the Coop has been involved with since the 80s. Peppered with female backing vocals and barroom piano, the song is more than decent.


This album is shaping up to be a major surprise until 'Stranger's Song', featuring vocals from John Lawton, formerly of Uriah Heep, threatens to suck the life out of the record with its plodding bore rock. Not even some cultured widdling from the wonderfully-haired Steve Stevens can save this flatliner. Just before the snappily titled 'My Reflections After Seeing The "Schindler's List" Movie' offers Pushking vocalist Konstantin Shustarev the chance to throw his self-indulgent moody piece around the guest guitar of Steve Vai, we get to hear 'Cut The Wire' and I'm suddenly double checking the tracklisting to see if that really is one of my favourite all-time singers. I'm not mistaken, this man struggling in the lower register is Paul Stanley. Even the most ardent of Kiss fans will have difficulty finding positives in this performance. Okay, it livens up after the first chorus but, as anyone who heard the strained live vocals on the 'Sonic Boom' tour will know, only the sentimental can argue over the harsh reality that Stanley's voice is shot. It is surely only a matter of time before his partner in crime (boy, has that description ever been more apt) recruits Jaime St. James to wear the Starchild make-up.


Another seminal voice from my childhood appears on the record and again, sadly, it brings with it disappointment. 'God Made Us Free' finds Graham Bonnet giving it a good go but, ultimately, having to resort to almost shouting some of the lyrics. His performance, like Stanley's before it, is saved by swarms of timely backing vocals. With repeated listens I warm, slightly, to the performances but this probably has more to do with guilt than anything else, a sense of betraying those who I once held dear. It also doesn't help that this pair of laboured vocal deliveries come before a trio of songs featuring a singer whose farts sounds better than 97% of the voices of other rock singers.       


The three songs that feature the lead vocals of Glenn Hughes - sandwiched in between is a song called 'I Believe' featuring Jeff Scott Soto who, love or loathe the bands he has been associated with, has been one of the finest and most consistent rock singers of the past few decades - are easily the best on this album, and all because of one thing; the Voice Of Rock! The first of these songs, 'Why Don't You?', could have been written for Hughes and certainly prompts me to turn off my television set and do something less boring instead. Sounding like something that would have fitted seamlessly onto Terence Trent D'Arby's 'Vibrator' album, this track is something of a departure for the album but essential for the vocal performance alone. 'Tonight' features the guitar work of Black Country Communion bandmate Joe Bonamassa and, again, slows the tempo but ups the quality. 'Private Own' sees Matt Filippini of Italian rockers Moonstone guesting on guitar and Hughes yet again turning in a superior performance. These three songs stand hairpiece and shoulders above everything else on this album.


How do you follow a Glenn Hughes master class? By getting Mr. Big's Eric Martin to sing the next song, I guess. 'Open Letter To God', whilst, like much of the lyrical content of 'The World As We Love It', dripping with more dubious sentiment than a generic Hallmark movie, showcases yet another fantastic vocalist. Suddenly, the vocal talent drops down a notch or two but the feelgood factor is amped up as Udo Dirkschneider lays waste to 'Nature's Child'. This rocking tune tells us that there's a party in the shortened pants of the diminutive denizen of Deutsche metal and we're all invited. Horns and grins aplenty.


There's still time for three more heavyweights of the rock world. Dan McCafferty of Nazareth might be the veteran of this collective but he rolls back the years with a couple of great vocal performances. 'I Love You' proves that the aged Scottish rocker could sing a greeting card and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, whilst 'My Simple Song', refusing to really abandon the power ballad format of the aforementioned song, only strengthens my opinion of the man's talent. Masterplan frontman Jorn Lande, famed for last year's Dio tribute album, brings the rock back to the record with 'Heroin', a track that owes a lot to the pre-poodle permed Whitesnake, and a good song it is too. Finally, former Rainbow member Joe Lynn Turner lays down his vocals on a song, 'Head Shooter', that may not be particularly hair-raising but certainly gives the listener a chance to wig out in a classic rock stylee before the album's end.


However, before the album is truly over we get 'Kukarracha', a party hardy tune that is the nearest that the album gets to hair metal with shared vocals from Turner, Stanley, Martin, Hughes and Bonnet, and guest six stringing from Toto's Steve Lukather. This, seriously, is a really good track and a perfect way to close out the project.


With several major fanbases sure to be intent on checking out, and dissecting, this album o'legends, the aim of the project has surely been achieved - Pushking will certainly be at the forefront of classic rock obsessed minds for several weeks around and beyond the release of 'The World As We Love It'. Will they stay there? It's a long shot, certainly. I'd be surprised if the attention isn't short-lived but stranger things have happened.....like Udo Dirkschneider out-singing Paul Stanley on a record. If the teenage version of myself saw me typing that he would slap me about the face and neck.


A rock oddbox has been opened and, for curiosity value alone, I suggest that you take a look inside.