"Fire for Hire" (EMI / Caroline; 2007)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

New Orleans’ Supagroup has a kitsch, and that’s possessing a knack for ferreting out and retooling the coolest riffs of early eighties hard rock — in particular those produced by Angus Young — and they do it with just enough seriousness to avoid being absolute shtick. Of course, considering the fact that this album was nearly released as "Roll In Smokin’" then you have to wonder if these dudes are serious at all. That’s not a pan, just an observation. 

Chris Lee’s tendency to dip into Bon Scott’s repertoire of low-end growls and whiskey-laced octaves as his band thoroughly rearranges AC/DC’s early catalog and creates a bunch of agreeable, foot-tapping new tunes is either your bag or it isn’t. Honestly, though, these guys are damned good at what they do, be it the sleazy sauce of “Jailbait” before they bend the main riff of AC/DC’s “Jailbreak” on the subsequent track “Promised Land,” or the way they turn AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much” into something almost as sultry but on a different tangent on “Mourning Day.” And how can you not laugh your ass off at “Roll In Smokin’” and its manifest take on “Let There Be Rock?” We only need the fifteen million fingers learning how to play in tandem.

While much of "Fire For Hire" rides the Bon Scott era of AC/DC like a champ as they’ve always done (the title track being another fine example), “Born in Exile” has a Bulletboys/Van Halen hook to it, and “Bow Down” grinds and sashays like a weird merge between AC/DC and classic Aerosmith. Supagroup stomps out like L.A. wildmen on “Hey Kiddies” and “Long Live Rock,” songs that would’ve had kids pumping fists in the air back in the day. Hell, when what you’re doing is blatantly tributary, so long as you’re doing it right, then fists should pump that air, no matter what decade.

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"Rules" (Food Chain)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Supagroup's "Rules" plays by the rules -- which can be a bad thing. Who needs another band that plays it safe by playing what they know listeners will like?

Thankfully, playing by the rules can also be a good thing. Although it can be said that Supagroup plays by the rules of great 80s rock on "Rules," they also bring a lot of attitude and talent to the table. The end result is an album of old school rock'n'roll that still manages to kick solid ass. In others words: in this day and age of all-out extreme music and nu-metal, Supagroup ain't playin' it safe at all.

Best described as a cross between early AC/DC and the harder edge of Alice Cooper's best stuff, "Rules," is a solid collection of hard rock tunes that are dripping with raunchy attitude and raw rock'n'roll. For the most part, "Rules" is made up of bluesy rock anthems that will have you tapping your toe if not pumping your fist in the air. There's the usual change of pace, as the band delivers the obligatory ballad ("I'm Gonna Change"), but they waste no time dipping back into the Bon Scott era style of AC/DC and kicking your ass all over again.

Finally, how can you dislike any CD that ends with a track entitled "Rough Edge"? The answer is you can't. And it helps that -- despite the fact this track has a killer title -- it also is one of the best on the CD. An enthusiastic hybrid of ballad and blues that explodes into full rock fury, "Rough Edge" closes "Rules" with a great kick.

Those who complain that no one knows how to play it like they used to will relish "Rules'" traditional kick and unabashed rock'n'roll attitude. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:20 -0400.