Smoke On This is the debut solo album from ex-Pantera bassist, Rex Brown. And if you think it’s going to be a bollock ripping clone of his old main band, then you need to think again. The only comparison to make with anything by Pantera is probably Suicide Note Pt 1, and that’s a very tenuous link.
On this album, Rex plays bass and rhythm guitar. And he also handles the vocals. Musically, he trawls through some of the artists that have influenced him, mainly from the70s, but also with a nod towards the 60s (specifically with The Beatles).
Without delving into a track by track breakdown, you can split the styles into two camps:
The rockers, such as Lone Rider and Crossing Lines, which have a Southern twang and you can throw the likes of Blackfoot and Thin Lizzy into the conversation. They have a laidback vibe with some rocking lead guitars and the latter also has a cool as hell opening riff, before it drifts off into a sort of Alt-Country version of Trouble… well, that’s how it sounds to me
The quieter tracks, which have (mainly) been plonked in the middle of the album are like a psychedelic version of The Beatles (who had their own tripper moments, admittedly) which occasionally meld into early-ish Pink Floyd. It’s like floating around on fluffy clouds listening to a smoking (pun intended) jam session. So Strawberry Fields Forever and maybe Wish You Were Here, if Syd Barrett had still been in the band and maybe even a bit of Donovan, circa Hurdy Gurdy Man.
I’m only 2 or so years younger than Rex Brown, so although I grew up on the opposite side of the Atlantic, my music journey followed a very similar path, so I’ve really enjoyed the collection of songs he’s created.
I’m sure on the next album he’ll stamp a bit more of his own sound into the proceedings, especially if his confidence as a vocalist shines through. But for a debut and in a style I’m sure many people weren’t expecting, this is a really strong first outing.