“It's a good, fun record to listen to” says Ricky Byrd about his long awaited and utterly brilliant new album, Lifer. Recorded in New York City as well as Nashville, Byrd wisely brought aboard five-time Grammy winning executive producer Ray Kennedy (Ray Davies, Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow) and Bob Stander as his capable co-producer.
His solo debut album had its official release on February 5, 2013 and already it's garnering rave reviews by both critics and the myriad of Byrd’s fans who adore his soulful “power chords” which have graced so many classic recordings such as “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts: a band in which Byrd’s uncanny knack for jagged riffs and memorable hooks took that band’s music to soaring heights of sonic wizardry.
Though best known for his work with Joan Jett, he's also created an important and memorable body of work as a composer, whose songs have been recorded by no less than 45 other artists and have been featured in film and television. Besides Joan Jett, he has also worked with such musical luminaries as Roger Daltrey, Ian Hunter and Richie Supa.
Ricky Byrd aptly describes himself as “a restless New York City poet who carries a torch for the town I love” and, after listening to his debut solo album, it’s hard to argue otherwise. Containing 11 original songs which gracefully pay homage to those defining influences which Byrd says “got me here in the first place” this album truly draws from a deeper well than one normally hears on most new albums today: AM radio, British rock and roll, soul, Dorothy Parker and even The Honeymooners, to name but a few of those eclectic influences one hears on this CD.
When asked to describe his new CD, Byrd replied: "It's rock and roll with a little bit of soul. Rock and roll is different from rock. My music leans toward rock and roll: Humble Pie, Faces, Stones. That kind of vibe, and it all comes from Chuck Berry, and it's all got that 'below the waist' kind of groove to it! Sexy...I hope, and funny on some points. I think that people will like it!"
A major delight the album holds is how many of the songs are-by Byrd’s own admission-autobiographical. A prime example is the album’s opening track “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boys”, which Byrd calls his tribute to his “old, glitter/glam haunt”: Max’s Kansas City. Says Byrd: “I just loved Max’s Kansas City; I literally grew up there! I began to hang out there in 1974, although I was only fifteen so I needed a phony ID to get in, lol! My uncle sold liquor to them, so it was easier for me to get in as a minor. It was there that I first learned about both sides of rock and roll: its great and exciting side, as well as its seedier, darker side. It was the place where every great band that came into town eventually ended up that night!”
Among the album’s musical highlights: “Foolish Kind” with its “whiskey-soaked”, evocative guitar work pitted against brightly contrasting organ fills; “Wide Open” with its plaintive, soulful yearning (Byrd: “I think it’s the best song I've ever written!”) and the album’s magnum opus track “Turnstile ‘01.” Byrd’s “valentine” to post 9/11 New York City, it’s a truly haunting, poignant tribute to downtown New York City. Once heard, it’s simply impossible to forget: “Subways are running slow. Still, I've got to smile. I’m heading downtown to you; my heart won’t stop beating wild. Girl, I’ll meet you by the turnstile!”
Ken Dashow, from Q104.3 Classic Rock in New York City, says of Lifer: “Ain’t no auto-tuning here! Ricky Byrd’s rock is alive and well!” I quite agree, and when you listen to this stunning, visionary album I think you will too!
Artist: Ricky Byrd
Original Release Date: February 5, 2013
Label: Kayos Records
Copyright: 2013 Kayos Records
Total Length: 41:44
1. Rock 'n' Roll Boys 2. Let's Get Gone 3. Foolish Kind 4. Ways of a Woman 5. Wide Open 6. Dream Big 7. Harlem Rose 8. Married Man 9. One Less Love 10. Things to Learn 11. Turnstile '01