Belfast’s No Hot Ashes formed over 30 years ago, releasing their first single in 1986, and signing a record contract in 1988 ready to record their first album. Regrettably, setbacks and delays meant the band split before the album was completed. They reformed a few years ago for a reunion gig, which was so successful they decided to give an album another shot. Bassist Paul Boyd tragically passed away before completion so the self-titled debut album is dedicated to his memory. It’s released March 23, 2018 on Frontiers.
‘Come Alive’ has an impressive instrumental opening, and a tuneful, polished vocal in a singalong track which seems familiar yet not dated, favouring subtle layers of light and shade to big showy and brash. ‘Good To Look Back’ has a slight southern feel to it and a great melody, fun but not quite fearless or effervescent. What a voice this guy has when hitting those long notes though! The keys and guitar take centre stage on the intro to 'Satisfied', a hair rock track with a very satisfying solid beat. ‘Boulders’ is a beautiful, almost delicate track dedicated to Nancarrow's parents, emotional yet not overly sentimental, and elegant. This is one of the best on the album and so damn catchy! ‘I'm Back’ is a heavier track with more fantastic keys and yet another opportunity to sing along to this hook-laden, guitar-driven classic rock song. This is the perfect song for this band and maybe should've been the first track?
I absolutely love the lyrics to 'Glow', a distinguished power ballad of sorts; "I know you do more than shine, you glow". This is a glorious track, emotive and energetic, and most of all great fun. And that scream! 'Over Again' is another great song with a stratospheric chorus supported with great subtlety and charisma throughout. There is also a sumptuous guitar solo and we all know how much I love those. 'Jonny Redhead' is my favourite on the album, a real upbeat rocker with lush guitars, a solid rhythm section and deep sexy vocal. There are bluesy touches and this song stays in your head like chewing gum on your shoe! Best on the album for me.
'Souls' is delicious cover of Rick Springfield's track, not exactly original but very enjoyable; "Two souls searching for heaven, rolling the dice looking for a seven…" Where's my hairbrush… I need to join in! Closing the album is 'Running Red Lights', another towering, symphonic track. They still sound and feel like a classic 80s rock band. Personally I like this, but I'm aware its not everyone's cup of tea.
Quite simply put, this album is a newly found long-lost treasure, smoothly confident with moments of 80s nostalgic bliss. If you like nostalgic classic rock and AOR this is for you. The 10-track album is a feast of hair rock and AOR, enjoyable to old and new listeners alike as we relive an epic era with some very fine music and new listeners discover the power of classic rock. It's sinfully addictive on a rainy afternoon and I have a feeling I'm going to keep listening into the night. Tracks to watch out for: Boulders, Glow, Jonny Redhead.
Good To Look Back
Running Red Lights
Dave Irvine - Guitar
Nial Diver - Guitar
Paul Boyd - Bass
Steve Strange - Drums
Tommy Dickson - Keyboards
Eamon Nancarrow - Vocal