Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell might be a new name to some but the guitarist has played with plenty of notable names in a career that dates back to the 80’s. Colwell’s credits include being one of three guitarists in ASAP with Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden fame, key involvement as a songwriter/guitarist in the reformed Humble Pie on the 2002 ‘Back On Track’ album plus stints in many other acts including Samson, Urchin and The Entire Population Of Hackney.
This all sounds pretty impressive but Colwell’s main claim to fame is his five years or so in Bad Company during their Brian Howe/Robert Hart years. Colwell joined the band as a touring guitarist in 1991 before becoming a fully-fledged member on the final Brian Howe fronted ‘Here Comes Trouble’ album. Colwell’s tenure with the band continued with the arrival of new singer Robert Hart for the ‘Company Of Strangers’ and ‘Stories Told & Untold’ releases and subsequent tours. It’s a shame that this period of Bad Company’s history seems to get brushed under the rug as those albums are well worth revisiting. Colwell would release a solo album in 2010 ‘Guitars, Beers & Tears’ with plenty of big name friends in tow including Edwin McCain, Bekka Bramlett, Robert Hart, Danny Bowes (Thunder), Spike (The Quireboys) and Adrian Smith before things seemed to go a little quiet…
In 2018 Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell is back with Buckets Rebel Heart and an album ’20 Good Summers’ which has been nearly five years in the making via an exhaustive Pledge Music campaign. In 2013 the Dave Colwell Band performed shows in Scotland and Cyprus and recorded a single ‘Whiskeyland’ which was released in 2014. The track (included here) is a cool hard driving blues rocker with a big riff and bags of melody sure to appeal to fans of Colwell’s time in Bad Co. The creative juices must have been flowing as Colwell put together CRH with drummer Paul Edwards (Edwards and Colwell had played together in 720 and The New Torpedoes) and began the long process of writing and recording ‘20 Good Summers’.
The result is an album that will appeal to all fans of old-school melodic/classic rock in the vein of Bad Company, FM, Thunder etc. In the past Colwell has employed a range of singers for his solo projects but here Colwell has enlisted vocalist Jim Stapley on 10 of the albums 12 tracks. Stapley is a fantastic singer who has fronted The Jones Gang for Kenney Jones (The Who/The Faces) alongside a solo career that includes a Tony Visconti produced album ‘Long Time Coming’. A quick mention here for the two tracks that don’t feature Stapley namely ‘Radio State Of Mind’ with Rick Richards (Georgia Satellites/Izzy Stradlin) taking the lead vocal on a fun slab of straight up, countrified, boogie rock that Satellites fans will adore and ‘Customised Car’ which finds Australian singer Lyla D’Souza (Kill For Eden) belting out this horn-driven blues song. Both of these tracks are fine, but for me, Stapley is missed and some of the album’s flow is lost.
The album opens with the rhythmic ‘Animal Beat’ which is a slight false start, despite Stapley catching the ear immediately before things really get going with the excellent melodic rock of the title track. Stapley is again in fine voice while Colwell’s melodic guitar lines and a catchy chorus seal the deal. ‘Rebel Heart’ is up next and as should always be the case with track three on a classic rock record it’s time to raise those lighters (mobile phones as we’re in 2018)for the big ballad. Richard Young adds piano and organ while Mollie Marriott’s backing vocals are a really nice touch giving the song a soulful/gospel feel. Great stuff. Marriott’s vocals are an equally welcome addition to the chorus of ‘The Bridge’ a tune that even features a good old fashioned “Na Na Na” vocal refrain which is always fine by me.
Things take a turn for the epic in just over four minutes with ‘Mexican Sun/El Diablo’. A “Let’s live every day like it’s our last” lyric transports us to Mexico and allows Colwell room to mix up Spanish and electric guitar lines over Richard Cottle’s strings. The acoustic blues of ‘Bulletproof’ is another winner, a perfect marriage of Colwell’s guitar and a wonderful Stapley vocal while Lyla D’Souza returns with a telling backing vocal contribution. The album concludes with Sam Tanner’s piano and Richard Cottle’s strings to the fore on a really lovely ballad ‘If You Need Me’ with Stapley again in fine voice.
Producers Colwell and Edwards have done a fine job delivering a nice clean and powerful sound. The songs are generally strong with more than a few standouts — as good as anything I’ve heard recently in the genre — on what has obviously been a labour of love. The band recently performed at Sweden Rock and hopefully will be playing more dates soon. In the meantime fans of Colwell’s work in Bad Company and melodic/classic rock generally will find much to enjoy on ’20 Good Summers’.