"This is the record I would have made in 1969 had I been capable," writes Little Steven of Born Again Savage, his first album in ten years and fifth album overall. In case that statement doesn't tell you enough about the sound of the record, he goes into detail: "It is a tribute to the hard rock pioneers that kept me alive growing up, the Kinks, the Who, the Yardbirds, and the three groups the Yardbirds spawned -- Cream, the Jeff Beck Group, and Led Zeppelin." Actually, he cites even more influences, but that should be enough to give you the idea. With a rhythm section consisting of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's son Jason Bonham and U2 bassist Adam Clayton, Little Steven layers on the guitars in emulation of everyone from Dave Davies to Jimi Hendrix, and at times it's hard to realize that you're not listening to a song from You Really Got Me or Axis: Bold As Love. The primary difference, in fact, comes with the lyrics, which Little Steven spits out in a Bob Dylan-like nasal howl that has improved from the whine of his earlier albums primarily by deepening. The man who wrote the anti-apartheid anthem "Sun City" retains his extensive political interests, though here they are often expressed in the form of rhetoric rather than spoken plainly. This may be because Born Again Savage is deliberately intended as "the fifth and last of the political albums I outlined when I decided to make my own records," as Little Steven puts it, and therefore, it is the one on which he is drawing broader philosophical conclusions. No wonder that the "suggested reading" list he provides this time around consists entirely of religious texts. Still, the basic conclusion remains that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and, if anything, Little Steven's world view is even more depressing than it was in the 1980s for being less specific. Still, it is made more palatable by being married to guitar tracks that sound like they were recorded in 1968, and if you don't read the lyric sheet, you won't get too bummed out.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann