Artist: Pride & Glory
Album: Pride & Glory
Originally Released: 1994
If you love music, you’ll remember them.
They are gems. Precious glistening jewels. The tones, textures and melodies that become the key to your heart. They are the moments when you looked into the deepest, darkest soul of music and saw yourself looking back.
In short, they are the most influential albums you’ve ever listened to. And Pride & Glory is one of mine.
In the summer of 1994 I was an awkward, gangling teen. I knew I loved drums and guitars more than anything else in the world (perhaps with the exception of Karen, with whom I was totally besotted.) Beyond that, I knew nothing.
Every Friday night without fail, I set the VCR to record Noisy Mothers, the only show on British network television giving air time to hard rock and metal. Then, every Saturday morning I would race downstairs before the rest of the house was awake, rewind the VHS tape, lie back on the sofa and basque in the glow of the television. In the following hour of dissentient, distorted bliss, I would absorb all the musical masterpieces that Krusher and Anne Kirk could throw at me.
One Saturday in particular, a music video was introduced that would change my musical world forever. And unusually for Noisy Mothers, it started with a banjo.
The track was Losin Your Mind, the opening song of the eponymous album from new band, Pride & Glory. Masterminded by erstwhile Ozzy Osbourne axe-slinger Zakk Wylde, their’s was a beguiling blend of styles that – on paper – shouldn’t have worked at all. In practice, however, oh boy….
That banjo motif, playing over images of a southern US swampland reminiscent of a scene from Deliverance, soon broke out in to a full-bore rock song, a heavy guitar riff mirroring the banjo, accompanied by resonant, clattering drums and a low-down, dirty bass rumble.
But what was this style of music? Was it metal? Sure, but then again, not really. Wylde’s custom Les Paul was very much in evidence, as were his blistering solos, but then so was that banjo. Was it country? Bluegrass? As well as the now infamous banjo, there were elements of American roots music all over the parent album, most notably in the rhythm and twang of Cry Me A River. Was it blues rock? Southern rock? Yes AND no. James Lomenzo’s swampy bass and Brian Tichy’s muscular drumming wouldn’t have sounded at all out of place on a Lynyrd Skynyrd album (something made explicit by the name of the album’s song publisher and original band name, Lynyrd Skynhead), and Wylde’s bottleneck slide on Troubled Wine brought the blues tropes to the fore.
Wylde’s cracked, throaty drawl of a singing voice turned out to be a captivating instrument all of it’s own. His lyrics a biblical blend of doom, love, decay and joy. In album closer I Hate Your Guts, they came with a wicked sense of vitriolic humour, too. Horse Called War was a full-tilt blast of hard rock, it’s descending riff keeping pace with Tichy’s spine-tingling beat. Lovin’ Woman was an acoustic-led summer breeze of an old school love-song, Fadin’ Away as a fine and affecting piece of piano balladry as you were likely to hear all year. The aforementioned Cry Me A River was out and out country, but with a sublime howl of a heavy metal solo seamlessly bolted on to thrilling effect.
Whatever the hell this music was, it was electrifying, mesmerising, hair-raising stuff. For this then 14 year old, the whole was worth so much more than the sum of the parts; the album was nothing short of epiphanic.
Ultimately Pride & Glory lasted for a little over a year and just the one studio album. James Lomenzo left the group and they broke up after their touring commitments were over. Wylde would go on to greater acclaim, longevity and album sales as part of his new metal band, Black Label Society. Lomenzo has sinced played in Black Label Society and Megadeth amongst other projects. Tichy has played with various bands including Whitesnake, and is now focused on new band S.U.N. with singer Sass Jordan. But somehow the shortlived nature of Pride & Glory and their limited recorded output just seems to make that one album all the more special.
As the Trinidadian turn of phrase would have it: “Perfect album is perfect.”