Alan Merrill

Hard Road

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A pounding six-track mini-album, Hard Road was pulled together from five different sessions laid down by Alan Merrill and guitarist/songwriter Jon Tiven during the mid-2000s, and it captures both men in ferocious form. The bluesy lope of the opening "Laugh," one of two Tiven/Don Covay co-writes, has a wonderfully rollicking Stonesy drive to it, a mood that is revisited across much of the rest of the set. "Tricks of the Trade," in particular, slashes ribbons through the Stones' mid-'80s demeanor, even as Merrill's vocals take on a semi-smoky Paul Rodgers-esque veneer, a mood that is then painted in sky-high neon by the sole Merrill composition, "It's a Hard Road" -- the best Bad Company outtake you've never heard! Another Covay/Tiven number, "He Don't Know," catches the team in soft soul mood, while the package ends with the chiming guitars of "Take It Like a Man," from the Miles from Home movie soundtrack. So it's a short set, but a delightful one, rocking hard but never forgetting to lavish on the atmosphere.

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