Butch Walker: Stay Gold


Yey, it’s the summer of ‘69 all over again, or at least 1984, when Bryan Adams’s song of that name was around. Hair metal was still a thing — Van Halen released the imaginatively titled 1984 and Bon Jovi’s debut (equally imaginatively titled, Bon Jovi) came out, while Whitesnake could still release albums with snakes on the cover and not be mocked (oh, for Twitter in those days).

(Just to digress: Now That’s What I Call Music II or Now2 was released in 1984 on vinyl and cassette, when Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, the first album made to be made for those new-fangled CDs, was still a year away. How long ago does that seem?)

Anyway: this album has both feet firmly in that era of solid 80s melodic rock. The songs are so well put together you could land a plane on them, and packed full of guitar licks that aren’t quite metal enough for air playing. It’s made for American sports bars, where people wearing denim trousers and jackets can tap their boots in time to the music.

This is all deliberate: Walker is a talented dude. He’s worked with Weezer (for whom he also wrote tunes), Fall Out Boy and Avril Lavigne, while bands such as Hot Hot Heat, American Hi-Fi, Pete Yorn, The All-American Rejects, The Academy Is… and Dashboard Confessional have recorded his songs. He’s made an old fashioned melodic rock album because he can, not because it’s all he can do.

Opener Stay Gold makes this clear: it echoes Summer of 69’s riffy intro, and while Mr Adams bought his first six-string “at the five-and-dime” Walker is “Standing outside a Dollar General.” Elsewhere, Walker is more Springsteen than Adams, and there are (perhaps inevitable) comparisons with Gaslight Anthem. Country singer Ashley Monroe helps out, so there’s a country twist in places. Ryan Adams plays guitar.

It does nothing new, but there’s a big market for people who like radio-friendly melodic rock and this should do well.

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