YOU could tag Ricky Warwick as one of the most hard-working musicians - his recordings and tours with Black Star Riders, his acoustic sets with Damon Johnson and his regular solo acoustic sets.
As if that isn't enough he's about to set out on a UK tour supporting Stiff Little Fingers with his new group Ricky Warwick and the Fighting Hearts...
Ahead of the tour Nuclear Blast is releasing Ricky's double CD set 'Hearts on Trees' and 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (and Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues)'.
This was available last year after a pledge campaign, but truth be told this is a selection of songs that always deserved a wider audience, which with the backing of Nuclear Blast it should receive.
The tracks range from all-out rockers through to the most heartfelt lyrics out there. 'The acoustic 'Hearts on Trees' has a real sense of a true singer songwriter stretching himself., with the tribute to the men who fell in 1916 'Scwhaben Redoubt' a stand-out as Ricky and Jake Burns song about how religious division meant nothing in the Great War.
Other stand-out acoustic tracks include closer '82' and 'It's Way Too Cold for Snow'. Overall a set of songs well worth sitting back and contemplating - and enjoying.
The 'electric' album is a stormer. Passionate, witty and reflective at the same time. Adopting tactics that amount simply to this - writing great songs and playing them with passion.
From opener 'The Road to Damascus Street' to closer 'Yesteryear' this is what great hard rock is about, tunes and lyrics that are not the vacuous staple of so many so-called rockers.
Instead he draws inspiration from his roots in Belfast and so much more.
"'Hearts On Trees' and 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy
Mitchell Sang The Blues)' were written by myself and my good friend
Sam Robinson, both albums depict our experiences of growing up and coming
from the Greater East Belfast area, not only experiences that have happenend to
us but historical references and stories that have been told to us by friends
and family...in saying that both albums translate those experiences on to a
global scale that hopefully anyone geographically can relate to.”
Whatever the inspiration there is not a bad song here. All-out heads down thrash of 'Son of the Wind' sits easily in a set with the hum along track 'Johnny Ringo's Last Ride'.
The intriguingly titled 'If Your Not Going to Leave Me (I Will Find Who Will) has a guitar line that demonstrates just how much Ricky has developed as a performer over the past seven or so years.
He also managed to draw in an impressive array of collaborators. The release boasts guests such as; Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) Damon
Johnson (Thin Lizzy/Black Star
Riders) Andy Cairns(Therapy?) Billy Morrison (Billy Idol) Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol) Ginger Wildheart, Jake
Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) Richard
Fortus (Guns ‘N’ Roses/Dead
Friendships are one thing, but it seems the quality of the tracks must have been a big factor to draw these people to Ricky's side. And both these albums ooze quality.
Review (and live pic) by Jonny