They Say :- “Kick ass and take names” – it’s a saying that they like to use in Chicago, the birthplace of the Tom Fuller Band, to describe how to get the job done. Not in an Al Capone way you understand. Although Tom’s grandmother did work for the notorious gangster. But rather by enlisting some of the biggest names in the music industry to produce Fuller’s third studio album Ask.
On first listen you can’t help but be decadently seduced by the voodoo drums of the opening track Lovers, hooked on the impossibly contagious title track Ask and carried away by the closing magical escapism of Garden Dreaming Days. Ask is an album that continually manages to surprise, challenge, captivate and inspire.
We Say :- Okay, let me start by saying I love this job because it’s exposing me to so much great music. Having had my head stuck firmly in the sand until very recently my reaction to pretty much anything I’m asked to review lately is “sorry, who?” and in some ways I’m glad of that. It allows me to take an album on face value, rather than compare it to what’s gone before. It’s easier to start with a blank canvas.
Ask is Tom Fuller’s third studio album, with his first released in 2005 and second in 2009. I haven’t heard either of them so I had no idea of what to expect when I put the shiny disc into my CD drawer. If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be “infectious” because that’s exactly what it is. His latest offering will be released in the UK on 5th September on Redcap/UMG Records.
This is an exciting project and when Tom was asked if he’d like to record with a couple of guys who used to be in Paul McCartney’s band, well let’s just say he didn’t need much persuading. The musicians in question are Abe Laboriel Jr and Brian Ray. Production of the album is handled by renowned studio magician Rick Chudacoff. The result of which is a collection of hard rocking tracks that get right up in your grill, with attitude and just the right amount of sass.
This album seems to have a classic American sound with hints of Tom Petty and The Byrds. That said though, there are definitely some British influences too, especially Rolling Stones, The Faces and The Beatles. It makes for an exciting album with such a variety of music crammed into a very small package. This is music for cruising along the coast roads with your roof down, or with your windows wide open. It’s definitely got that “feel good” factor to it and the listeneing experience is uplifting. It makes you feel good.
Lyrically, the songs are intelligently written with some out and out “stick it to the man” lyrics as well as reined in ballads, injected with some soul. It keeps you captivated all the way through, and that’s the mark of a great composition. It refuses to be just “background music” and demands your full attention. That’s no bad thing though, as this is an album that deserves your full listening capacity, and if you don’t give in to it, you may miss something.
My own musical tastes are somewhat eclectic, and I crave variety as well as diversity, and this album provides a little of both. What I like most about it though, is the way it draws so many influences of the great music from the 60’s and 70’s while keeping it’s feet planted firmly in the 21st century. That’s some accomplishment on it’s own, but couple that with Tom’s extraordinary musical talents, and the end result is something a little bit special. This gives it a “timeless” quality, and if there’s any justice in the world, then Tom Fuller’s music should be around for some time to come.
If you’re one of those people that thinks that there’s been no quality music since the 80’s, then this album is definitely worth a listen, and if you’re one of those people that appreciates great music played well then this album is for you too. In fact, I can think of absolutely no reason whatsoever that anyone should give this a wide birth unless, of course, you just don’t like that kind of music. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance in the record shops and if that had been the case, it would have been a tragedy as I’d have missed out on a real gem, so don’t let that happen to you.