Ghosts Of Sunset – Headed West EP
Golden Robot Records
Release Date: 05/02/2021
Running Time: 25:05
Review by Beth Jones
The 80’s was an interesting decade in a lot of ways. Fashion, the beginning of the tech boom, and some really crazy stuff going on around the world. I was only born 10 days before the 80’s started, so I don’t remember much of it happening at the time, but, thanks to historical archives, the dots can be joined up. One thing I do remember is 80s hair! And the eponymous sound of 80’s Rock and Hair Metal.
Personally, I think some of the best rock and power ballads ever written came out of that era. And, it would seem that American 80’s Rock / Hair metal inspired project, Ghost Of Sunset, agree! The brainchild of singer-songwriter John Merchant, and singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Todd Long, their mission with this debut concept EP, “Headed West,” is to illustrate the story of the rise and fall of a fictional mid-western US rock band, getting lost in the changing music scene of 80’s L.A. They’ve enlisted a host of big names to help them bring this to life, as well, with musicians from the likes of L.A. Guns, RATT, Enuff Znuff, KIX, and Lita Ford, all involved with its creation.
I have to say, it’s a heck of a big story to fit into one 6 track EP! So, have they managed it? Well, let’s find out!
‘Headed West’, the opening, and title track, is an upbeat little number, perfect for a journey down a dusty highway, with the air of excitement and glorious wonderment buzzing along with you. It’s classic Rock ‘n’ Roll. And this theme continues through track 2, ‘Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show’. This would be the perfect soundtrack to an upbeat advertisement for the ideals of 80’s young America. There’d be fast pans across crowded clubs, full of enough hairspray and back-combing to power the international space station for a good year. Everyone would be dancing, and smiling, and having a great time. Then you’d get the closeup cutaways of pretty girls laughing and pulling funny faces, and handsome guys, lighting up another Marlboro, and swigging from a cool Budweiser, while a killer rock band were giving a huge performance, in the background, on a stage the size of a postage stamp.
Then ‘3 Miles In-Between’ sweeps in. This takes things down a bit, and here we start to see the cracks forming, the yearning and longing for home, and the exhaustion of the punishing touring, and always having to put on your best face, that kept 80’s bands afloat. This is essentially one of those great ballads that I was talking about earlier, and it has a proper guitar solo towards the end of the track, completely in keeping with the soaring solos of the day!
This slowed down theme is continued in track 4, ‘Never Goodbye’. But here, we’re introduced to a new edge within the lyrics – bitterness and disillusionment – ‘You’ll tell them the truth, it’s all just a lie, just say goodnight, never goodbye’ being a perfect example of this. The plastic perfection of this era simply didn’t allow for open negativity.
Track 5, ‘It’s Not Over’, and the final track, ‘Try It For Love’, run through becoming resolute to their fate, with an almost ‘dead behind the eyes’ acceptance, and then finding peace in the realisation that it’s not all just about perceived success, but that, in fact, real success comes from within. It’s in the joy, and love, that just making music brings. Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.
Musically, this epic tale, neatly packaged into 25 minutes, is very pleasing. The songs are all expertly written, with nothing overstated, and skilfully executed by all the players (but then you’d expect this really, with the amount of talent and experience Ghosts Of Sunset has called upon). But for me the thing that makes this a great EP is it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s everything that says great 80’s Rock / Hair Metal. There’s nothing new here, and there’s no flashy, all singing, all dancing, ‘shiny, shiny’. But there doesn’t need to be. If you’re looking for a new sound, this will not be for you (unless of course you’ve been living in a cave and have never heard any music before, ever!). But, if you, like me, are a sucker for some nostalgia, then this EP will make you smile, a lot!
01. Headed West
02. Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Show
03. 3 Miles In-Between
04. Never Goodbye
05. It’s Not Over
06. Try It For Love
Todd Long – Songwriting, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Backing Vocals
John Merchant – Songwriting, Vocals
+ many guests!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.