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Monday, June 14, 2010

Judge Jackson - Drive

Judge Jackson - Drive
2010, Curtis-Joe Records

Judge Jackson holds the distinction of being one of two bands to ever be invited to play at the Hells Angel’s LA Chapter House. Touring with bands like Gov’t Mule, The Doobie Brothers and Cheap Trick over the past several years, Judge Jackson has caught the ear of many classic rock fans, but it’s the freshness of their sound that has gained Judge Jackson placements on such shows as NFL on FOX, MLB on FOX, NHL on FOX Playoffs and My Name Is Earl. With their fifth album, Drive, due on August 3, 2010, Judge Jackson have come fully into their own, mixing a classic sound and a fresh approach that is certain to dance across generations.

Drive opens with "Head Over Heels", driven with the energy of 1980's glam rock without all of the volume. Lead vocalist Todd McTavish can flat out sing, and the hooks and harmonies make this one of the better pop/rock hybrids of the early summer. "Radio" is a tribute that may have been more apropos in the 1980's than it is today. Guitarist Lee Jackson snaps off riffs in the style of Nuno Bettencourt and makes this song a winner. Things get a bit bland for a bit as Judge Jackson runs through tunes like "Pickin' Me Up" and the power ballad "Me Then You", but salvation comes in the form of "Just Because". With a hook so big you can't stay out of its way, "Just Because" is the sort of virulently catchy rock tune that you might be hearing all summer long.

"The End" is a blues rocker that opens and closes with riffs that could have been culled directly from a Jimi Hendrix songbook. The tune is a bit on the hokey side but full of fun and a likely fan favorite at live shows. Judge Jackson shows off their hooky side again on "River", a highly danceable bit of classic rock n roll that will have your toes tapping. Drive comes to a close with "Meant To Be", with Judge Jackson taking on a vague country feel and featuring Julia Henry in a duet with McTavish. This is by far the best track on the disc, and considering tunes like "Head Over Heels" and "Just Because" that's actually saying quite a lot.

You'll pass through some slow moments on Drive, but Judge Jackson show they know how to rock and they know how to write great songs. The slow moments are made worthwhile by the better tunes on Drive, and you're certain to find yourself checking Judge Jackson's itinerary to see if they're coming through your town. This is the sort of band that can make a night memorable.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Judge Jackson at or Drive drops on August 3, 2010. Expect wide availability.

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