Wow…I haven’t thought about “Fast” Eddie Clarke in years so it is somewhat of a surprise to see a new Fastway disc drop in 2012. Eat Dog, Eat (MVD Audio), Fastway’s seventh disc, is the band’s first disc of new material since 1990’s Bad Bad Girls. This disc wisely goes back to Clarke’s hard-rock roots (completely skipping the AOR sound of the band’s previous two albums).
This time out, Clarke is joined by bassist / vocalist Toby Jepson (Gun, Little Angels, Dio's Disciples) and drummer Matt Eldrige and trio has a sound that is comparable to FM-radio blues-rockers like early 80’s Bad Company or Sykes-era Whitesnake and one can even hear a bit of Jimmy Page’s guitar sound in some of the songs (“Deliver Me”, “Sick as a Dog”). After doing some research as to what “Fast” Eddie has been up to these past twenty year, I found that he reactivated Fastway in 2007 with Jepson joining on vocals shortly thereafter and the pair has been working on the material for the new disc these past few years. Toby said: "We have collaborated closely on all aspects of the recording, specifically wanting to create a performance based, un-apologetically raw album that was song driven and above all made with passion. This we did, eschewing multi layered, heavily edited recording in favour of the simple 'warts and all' dynamics. I think the results are real. We hope you do to."
Picking up on Toby’s comment, the raw production on Eat Dog, Eat’s eleven tracks (48 minutes) highlights both strong song writing and the musical virtuosity of this power trio. Jepson’s melodic, bluesy vocals are reminiscent of David Coverdale’s but (thankfully) don’t include Coverdale’s tendency to hit some disconcerting high notes. Clarke lays down some grinding blues riffs and his guitar leads are clean, memorable and delivered without any of the bombast or unnecessary ‘flash’ that plagued bands in the later part of the 80’s. Eldridge pounds away on the drums in the front of the mix but the focus of this disc is on the guitar and vocals. The full-range of instrumentation and vocals are equally highlighted in the production and ten of the disc’s eleven tracks are based off of a dirty blues-rock core. The last track, “Dead and Gone”, is a pre-‘hair metal’ rock ballad that is close in spirit to Def Leppard’s “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”.
Fastway fans will welcome the return to the sound of the band’s first two discs and this new disc should also strike a positive chord with fans of the early 80’s British hard-rock genre.