· VINCE HAWKINS & COMPANY SLAVE-Roads To Freedom (GYR101) ·
::T R A C K S::
FORMAT: Audio CD / Digipack
Phenomenal second studio disc by this bad-ass, killer power trio from Canada featuring the amazing Hendrix-inspired heavy guitar talents of Vince Hawkins. Includes 13 awesome tracks of brain-damaging, way-kool, powerful, hard-hitting, blues-based, retro-70s, riffage that defines the true meaning of heavy guitar rock. Combining elements of "old-school" guitar heaviness with a fresh modern twist, the "Roads To Freedom" disc is a serious slice of outstanding guitar rock mojo.
Vince Hawkins is a supreme axeripper who lands at true, legit Guitar Hero status on this incredible Grooveyard Records disc that is Highly recommended to fans of: JIMI HENDRIX / ROBIN TROWER / FRANK MARINO & MAHOGANY RUSH.
Take a mind-bending deep musical ride with Vince Hawkins & Company Slave on the superb "Roads To Freedom" disc. An essential, super-sonic, dynamic ass-kickin' heavy guitar power trio riff:monster of epic six string proportions.
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· VIDEO ·
VINCE HAWKINS & COMPANY SLAVE - "Mother Nature"
· reviews ·
You know when you pick out an album from Grooveyard Records that the guitar is going to be the star. Roads To Freedom from Vince Hawkins & Company Slave is no different. Strong flavours of the 60s, 70s and 80s mean RTF is an album that's going to gain the interest of a strong cross section of Rock lovers; especially if they hold some of the real guitar gods close to their hearts. For Hawkins has the rounded smooth attack of Hendrix, the slow handed guile of Clapton and the fire and urgency of Eddie Van Halen. A mean mix in anyone's book and then some. Add to that a David Lee Roth like raspy bluesness to Hawkins' voice and the Van-vibe becomes stronger still, even though the wisps of aroma which emanate from this album are often far more vintage.
"Neighbour" positively bellows an introduction, a clarion call to the riff n' roll Hawkins obviously loves, his vocal hollers and fret growls instinctively complementing a bulging beat and hammering bass line. "Mother Nature" whooshes from the speakers, a six-string assault of urgent accuracy revealing a chorus that keeps you sweet and interested, before "Room Full Of Mirrors" allows drummer Ryan Ferrando to step up to the plate and hit a rope right into next week. The manner in which he brutally caresses his cymbals, while thundering his kick drum and ensnaring his snare, immediately transporting you into the world of Ginger Baker, and giving the Clapton-esque riff decidedly more than a dash of Cream. Put simply it's pretty damn excellent.
"Rock & Roll Is What We Know" may have the sort of, we were born to do this, cheesy lyrics its name suggests, yet the laid back vibe makes it easy to forgive. Especially when "You Were There" unveils a slow Hendrix slide, "I'm A Gambler" a funkier, if no less poignant edge and "Misty Colored Rainbow" a wandering melody and classy vocal. In fact even the straight up, if unsurprisingly rockin', take on the Beatles "Taxman" hits the spot, while the breezy melancholy of closer "Broke Down Soul" closes the album in considered if still captivating fashion.
Roads To Freedom finds Vince Hawkins in rude health and fine form; his Company Slave, Ferrando and bassist Alan Briant matching him step for step. A classy production brings things right up to date but there's no denying that it is those who still hanker for authentic 60s and 70s sounds with slap of 80s exuberance that will lap this up most eagerly. And so they should!
Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Steven Reid / Sea Of Tranquility (April 2014)
Every once in a while, you hear something that not only grabs your attention like a vise, but transports you to another time; another space. “Roads To Freedom” by Vince Hawkins and Company Slave is one of those rare CD releases that does just that.
Displaying a maturity and confidence that is unfamiliar with their younger and less seasoned contemporaries, they slice and dice their way through 13 tracks of heavy guitar bliss. Like rutting bulls looking for a fight, these cats don’t play these tunes…they SLAY them…with a hard, honed edge and dripping liquid fire. The original tracks like “Mother Nature”, “Evil B. Knockin’” and “I’m A Gambler” embody the signature vibe that Vince and his band of musical brothers are all about…pulse pounding, riff heavy feels with treble boosted, overdriven, Octavia-ized leads screaming for vengeance. And let me tell ya…these guys are ti yi yi tight…tight as a gnat’s ass on a cold day. Vince’s plectrum-fueled skullduggery is replete with ripping tones and chops that are absolutely RAGING, reminiscent of the best of that mystical period in the early-mid ‘70s when true guitar magic was the order of the day, with soulfully gritty yet satin-smooth vocals and spot-on harmonies.
In addition, the boys absolutely KILL several covers, like Hendrix’s “Roomful Of Mirrors” – a wah-drenched excursion to Electric Ladyland; the early ZZ Top classic “Koko Blue” which gets a supercharged “frame off restoration” (which not only pays reverent homage to the original, but ramps up the gears of the energy signature into overdrive), and the Beatles’ “Taxman” summarily blows the original apart and reconstitutes it into a maniacally cool reinvention held together with bluesy psychedelic glue…I’ll never hear this song the same way again…
A special shout out is in order to Vince’s rhythm section, Alan Briant (Bass) and Ryan Ferrando (Drums) – these cats are hard wired, soul powered and locked into their single-minded collective groove, with Vince standing in the middle of it all with his flame thrower riffage spraying all over the damn place. Put it all together and you get the musical version of a high voltage Swiss movement – smooth, devastatingly precise and dangerously powerful.
“You Were There” tips the hat to Robin Trower, and “Misty Colored Rainbow” evokes early Frank Marino in spirit, all delivered deftly, solidly and heavily by Vince and the band. “Broke Down Soul” closes the set with an understated and powerfully sensitive approach, softly landing this hard-rockin’ juggernaut smoothly after the thrill ride is through…and what a ride it is.
If you’re hungry for a band with that special “something, look no further than “Roads To Freedom” – it’s got it…and so much more…in spades.
Jimmy Ryan - Truth Squad (October 2013)
Toronto’s own Vince Hawkins & Company Slave return with the sophomore release – Roads to Freedom. Vince is clearly a talented guitar player but this album leans much more to the late ’70s early ’80s rock genre than his last album. You can clearly hear the influences of artists like Pat Travers, Robin Trower, and Black Sabbath.
The album starts off with “Neighbor.” A riff driven track drenched in reverb and echo effects where Vince’s voice hits some piercing clear tones on the high parts in the chorus that have a bit of Ronnie James Dio clarity to them. “Mother Nature” is next and lays down a heavy bass line that drives the pace of the song while Vince lays down a couple of short, intense solos. Next we get the wah-wah heavy cover of Hendrix’s “Room Full of Mirrors.” The next two tracks “Rock And Roll Is What We Know” and “Evil B Knocking” sort of sum up the overall feel of this album. These guys clearly can lay down the old school rock with an evil distorted sound.
Another influence is evident when they cover ZZ Top’s “Koko Blue” (1972). This is definitely a modern update in terms of sound and intensity from the very early ZZ recording. Vince reaches way back again and covers The Creation’s “Making Time” (1966). Talk about a song that could use a sonic upgrade. Well this was it and Vince does it justice. Time for a history lesson – Some prominent members of The Creation went on to bigger and better things including Kenny Pickett (eventual guitar tech for Jimmy Page), Kim Gardner (Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke), Mick Avery (Kinks) and Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones). After that great remake we get another fast packed rock track with “Just Ain’t Right” and then the last cover tune – The Beatle’s “Taxman.”
Things slow down considerably with the last two tracks. “Misty Color Rainbow” has the full luscious sound of his guitar without losing the hard dirty rock sound that the rest of the album has been filled with. Everything wraps up with the acoustic “Broke Down Soul” where Vince lays it bare.
If you’re looking for a modern update to the classic ’70s-’80s rock sound that laid the foundation for what we listen to today, then this is a good album for you. Vince’s sound is clearly a hard hitting in your face rock reminiscent of his influences yet won’t leave you wanting to shelf it from a lack of sensibility.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
- Koko Blue
- Rock and Roll is What We Know
- Mother Nature
The Big Hit
- Mother Nature
Kevin O'Rourke - Blues Rock Review (October 2013)
Vince Hawkins is the man, with guitar chops from hell! His group, known as “Company Slave,” do their thing too -- and quite well. The album is called “Roads to Freedom,” and a quick listen will loosen your bonds, while a thorough listen will actually set you free. Jimi is never far from the proceedings. The band members -- and especially Vince himself -- are clearly Hendrix aficionados, capturing the master’s feel and vibe in a collection of dynamite songs, classic originals with several strong covers. In fact, their cover of Jimi’s “Room Full of Mirrors” is a high point for me, showing what the band is capable of when they are at their best -- which is 99% of the time. In short, Hawkins is a Hendrix disciple that you'll be hearing about quite a bit. He takes the heavy blues-rock power trio to another level all together, no doubt making Jimi proud!
Steve Rosen - Author (October 2013)
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