Billy Bremner

No Ifs, Buts, Maybes

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Billy Bremner re-emerges after eight years with his third solo album on No Ifs, Buts, Maybes. A resident of Sweden, the Scottish Bremner employs a band of Swedes to accompany him. But he might as well be back in old partner Dave Edmunds' Rockfield Studio in Wales for all the difference in the sound. No Ifs, Buts, Maybes will sound familiar to anyone who's ever heard a disc by Edmunds, Nick Lowe, or their band, Rockpile (which, of course, also featured Bremner), from back in the 1970s and '80s. The music is pop/rock, with strong melodies and catchy choruses, chiming guitars, and chugging rhythms, exactly the sort of hybrid Bremner, Edmunds, Lowe, and Rockpile drummer Terry Williams developed out of '50s rockabilly and '60s Merseybeat. As a singer, Bremner often sounds uncannily like Edmunds, boasting the same sort of husky, reedy tenor, and he organizes harmony vocals from his Swedish cohorts that emphasize the similarity to the vocal blend he made with his old pals. The style is familiar from more than just the Rockpile bunch, however. It's almost possible to sing the Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line" to "Only the Sound of My Heart," for example. Of course, this is no surprise. One would hardly expect Bremner to have acquired a sudden taste for rap at this late date. Given that he was always treated as a junior partner in Rockpile, it's striking that he is able to re-create its sound so well on his own. For that band's fans, this is a disc well worth seeking out.

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