Album Review: MOTOR SISTER Ride
The woulda-coulda-shoulda scenario is the musical equivalent to a Greek tragedy: a band ripe with talent has fame and fortune within reach but – alas – never achieving it. Los Angeles trio Mother Superior were the poster boys for "what could have been"; releasing ten albums of blistering rock and roll in fifteen years, they made a career of chasing that dangling carrot of success, eventually finding a home as Henry Rollins touring band. Front man Jim Wilson fell into the role of backup musician but it was his Mother Superior songs that grew him to legend status within a small sector of rock fans hungry for the bluesy, back alley anthems he penned.
The proverbial head of the Mother Superior fan club was Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, his fandom hitting such heights that he convinced Wilson to get the band back together to jam with him at his birthday party. Stories like this is are too good to end there: after persuading Wilson to record some of the band's songs (hand picked by Ian), joined by Joey Vera (Armored Saint) on bass and John Tempesta (White Zombie) on drums, the idea for Motor Sister was born: a supergroup cover band paying homage to songs you’ve never heard, fronted by the man who wrote them.
Mother Superior played straight ahead bar rock, buffering somewhere between the soul of Enuff Z Nuff and the swagger of Kiss… they were a party waiting to happen. On Ride, Ian and company relight a fuse in Wilson that has now sparked into a forest fire. The opening riff of “A-Hole” kicks out the jams so hard it's like the MC5 but full-on Hollywood, bustling into a nineties rock anthem tailor made for the soundtrack to a Wayne’s World flick with it’s unabashed sincerity in it’s party hearty attitude.
Ride continues on a retro rock trip with shades of oft forgotten mullet kings: the Clapton worship funk of House of Lords ("This Song Reminds Me of You") to the indie pop of Drivin N Cryin ("Get That Girl"). Motor Sister is at their absolute best when they are letting it all hang out in a clinic of no fucks given, good times rock and roll. Take the crushing “Beg, Borrow, Steal” where Wilson sounds young again; bellowing out the chorus like an arena tour was in his future.
“Head Hanging Low” borders on alternative nation material, so fully developed in its indie pop sensibilities that it could have been an unlikely top forty hit now sounding like the inspiration to the Hellacopters best work. Wilson has a knack for intelligent sentiments in his songwriting; it’s Dogs D’Amour but as American as apple pie. On the absolutely killer “Whore”, the prophetic Wilson sings “lines on your face, staring back at you in the mirror”, summing up this ride down memory lane perfectly. Motor Sister's story is fitting for a Hollywood screenplay, but with Wilson letting the music do the talking it is the soundtrack that is the real star.