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Warner E. Hodges - Centerline

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 24 / 5 / 2008

Warner E. Hodges - Centerline
Label: Jerkin' Crocus
Format: CD


Hit and miss debut album from Jason and the Scorchers guitarist Warner E. Hodges, whose brand of heads-down no nonsense rock 'n' roll is too often lacking in anything that sets him apart from the many other artists making music in the same genre

Released the same day and on the same label as Jason Ringenberg’s double ‘Best Of’ collection ‘Centreline’ is the debut by Jason and the Scorchers guitarist Warner E. Hodges. For those who caught Hodges and his rocking guitar on his recent solo tour or as part of the Jason And The Scorchers or even in his new job as guitarist with Homemade Sin currently on tour with Dan Baird (who also adds guitar, vocals and co-produced this ten track collection along with Hodges) this album serves as an excellent reminder of just how great Hodges is as a guitarist. While there is absolutely no question that Hodges plays dirty, loud guitar better than many of his better-known contemporaries and he has a certain distinct style of his own he is not making any great advances with this album. There are many musicians making this type of heads-down no nonsense rock 'n' roll and while there is certainly nothing wrong with that it’s going to be difficult for him to get his music across to a wide audience. Anyone who has seen the man on stage is likely to want to buy this album as a reminder of just how proficient he is on the guitar but listening to him on record in the comfort of your own home it is difficult to find anything that sets him apart from the many other artists who are making similar music to that Hodges makes. There are seven self-penned songs here ( five of which are co-writes) and initial thoughts after the two run of the mill opening rockers are that maybe it’s Hodges' song writing that lets him down. Perhaps it lacks that extra special something that would put him above all the others and show him to be more than just an extraordinary guitar player, especially as the third song is a cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘Branded Man’ which, with backing vocals from Stacie Collins, is an inspired and outstanding version. Then, however, that theory is dismissed when a Hodges original ‘Time Marches On’ shows itself to be every bit that song's equal. Taking things at a much slower pace showcases a gentler side of both Hodges' guitar playing and a more soulful side to his vocals. The fact that this song is a solo write proves that Hodges is capable of writing songs that match the brilliance of his guitar skills both in his lyrics and the way he writes melodies. With his heart so obviously in loud rock and roll and with blazing performances under his wing Hodges is always going to have a devoted fan base filling the seats at his shows and his obvious skill on the guitar shows no sign of failing him. There are, however, so many bands doing exactly the same thing that he needs to add more songs of the calibre of ‘Time Marches On’ to his repertoire to gain new fans and to maintain the interest he has so far gained. ‘Air That I Breathe’ is another original where Hodges shows he can take the hard rock sound he is so fond of and shape it into something a little more interesting than many do but he really does need more songs like that if he wants to transfer the brilliance of his live shows into record sales. The chugging version of Jerry McCain’s ‘She’s Tuff’ could have been taken off any Status Quo album made over the last 35 years which is no bad thing but if I want to listen to Quo I’ll listen to Quo. A musician of Hodges standing we expect a little more from. To see Warner E. Hodges on stage is to see him at his best. As this collection is his debut we can only hope that next time he commits his songs to tape then a little more variety along the lines of ‘Time Marches On’ and ‘ How It’s Gonna Be’ is included.

Track Listing:-
1 Gimme, Gimme
2 Whole Lotta Fun
3 Branded Man
4 Hell To Pay
5 I Love You, Baby
6 Time Marches On
7 How It's Gonna Be
8 Air That I Breathe
9 She's Tuff
10 Harvest Moon

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