Michael Des Barres has seen a lot of rock ‘n’ roll highway pass by. But he’s still itching to explore new sideroads.
A veteran of bands that included Tony Kaye of Yes, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Nigel Harrison of Blondie and Tony Sales of Todd Rundgren and Tin Machine fame, Des Barres’s narrative goes back some four decades. Ever adaptive, he later fronted the touring edition of the Power Station, a Duran Duran/Chic spinoff from the mid-1980s, and even penned a No. 1 new wave hit for Animotion, called “Obsession.”
Yet Carnaby Street — due July 10, 2012, from Gonzo MultiMedia — is not hampered by any longing looks back. Instead, he’s returned fit, forceful and full of piss and vinegar amid bright blasts of gruff, old-school white blues.
Of course, the B3-soaked, first-take, race-record-inflected sounds on Carnaby Street are, in some ways, as “new” sounding as they can be in these days of pre-fab auto-tunery. But it wouldn’t be enough if Des Barres wasn’t smartly building upon those roots, and keeping his gaze steadily fixed on the future. While others of his vintage have turned to the gauzy safety of lounge music, Des Barres has a steel-toed boot absolutely flooring it. Carnaby Street serves up smart, below-the-waist groovers where there’s no irony, no winking — and no apologizing.
Tough, gravel-rough and honest, this is. And a template for growing old without growing soft, too.