Nobody Said It Was Easy

The Four Horsemen

Def American Records, 1991

http://www.thefourhorsemen.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/01/1997

There are times that bands appear from out of the blue, produce one amazing work, then disappear without a trace, leaving only that one slab of glory behind them.

That's one reason I was thrilled to find out that The Four Horsemen, a five-piece blooze-and-boogie band akin to AC/DC, had returned five years after releasing their major-label debut. Of course, I plan to add this newer title to the Pierce Memorial Archives (Now showing in the theater: Heaven's Gate), but for now we'll take a look at their first release, Nobody Said It Was Easy.

The focus here is guitar, guitar, crunchin' frippin' guitar... and the two-axe attack of Dave Lizmi and Haggis does the Texas two-step on your eardrums. Frank C. Starr's vocals go from Axl Rose-meets-Brian Johnson in one song to a growl the next, to a megaphone-enhanced track the next. He is a capable singer, though it would have been nice if he had settled on one style. Add to this the thundering bass work of Ben Pape and solid trap work by Ken "Dimwit" Montgomery, and you have yourselves one incredible band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Haggis handles most of the songwriting on Nobody Said It Was Easy, and while he writes some great songs ("the title track, "Rockin' Is Ma' Business," "Hot Head"), others miss the target by a mile ("75 Again"). Starr is credited for lyrics on two of the songs, though these all are band collaborations - it would have been interesting to see what kind of influences each musician brought to this band had they each written a song on their own.

The best track on this one is "Rockin' Is Ma' Business," complete with killer rhythm guitar riffs, a steaming solo and Starr's tortured vocals. Though this one couldn't get on the radio due to their use of one word (the sixth on George Carlin's famous "Seven Words" list), it would have been a great AOR track. In fact, this whole album was criminally ignored by radio.

Though the hits outnumber the misses on this album, there are a few bad apples in the bunch. "Wanted Man" takes forever to build to its climax, and it doesn't do much when it does hit its stride. "Let It Rock" also fails to do anything with its allotted time on the CD. And while I like the combination track "I Need A Thrill / Somethin' Good," the ending instrumental portion takes too long to wrap up - so long, in fact, that producer Rick Rubin threw in the sound effect of the recording tape running out and flapping on the take-up spool.

Nobody Said It Was Easy is a very enjoyable album, one that will put you into a footstompin' mood, warts and all. I do hope their latest release is as good, if not better, than this one - it really was a shame that no one noticed them the first time around.

Rating: B+

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Def American Records, and is used for informational purposes only.