Like a talented student producing a fair imitation of Las Meninas, Ruby proves he has something of worth, but the observer (or in this case listener) waits with interest whether he can fully escape the spell of the original master work.
Oofph now this record is enjoyable in all the most obvious teenage heartthrob ways. Choruses, sounds, attitudes and melodies nicked from Rock’s glittering and tatty old wardrobe, and all brought together with a lick of greasepaint by one Johnny Ruby, a 22 year old lad who has obviously memorised “The Gospel of Rock Shapes to be Thrown According to Ian McCulloch”.
Gawky, slightly lizard-like, adopting that “hard ponce” stance look so beloved of the front singer, Ruby’s winning card is his confident vocal style. He’s not looking to go anywhere he’s not comfortable with vocally; as a matter of fact his laconic drawl suits all the songs just fine.
The louder tracks on the LP have a stentorian, preacher style that can be adapted to changing db levels easily enough. Straight Into Your Heart is a deliberately slow swagger stroll, never looking to increase its pace and seemingly enmeshed in a wall of guitar. Don’t Let Me Fall could be a Verve track, whereas the title track is a traditional foot stomper with a laconic, Lee Hazlewood vibe. With the slow tracks there’s a mix of loner blues like Graceland Smile (played like there’s only one fag left in the packet) and laments like Black Hills of Dakota, 96 Dreams and Me and You, all of which lean a bit on the Mary Chain, Lee Hazlewood and Steve Earle for guidance in equal measure.
Like a talented student producing a fair imitation of Las Meninas, Ruby proves he has something of worth, but the observer (or in this case listener) waits with interest whether he can fully escape the spell of the original master work. Still it’s a record that is testament to the enduring power of the genre.