It is ten years since Reuben unveiled debut album Racecar Is Racecar Backwards, the first ever release by XTra Mile Recordings. To mark this milestone for band and label, the original sixteen tracks have been reissued with a bonus disc boasting live and session versions of all songs. 2004’s heavy rock vintage was very fine and the return of Racecar Is Racecar Backwards is hugely welcome.
The thrusting guitar bursts and complex, pounding drums that open the album on ‘No On Wins The War’ are filled with power and intent. A sudden change of pace after only forty seconds and a sinister bass solo towards the track’s end create an excitement and an anticipation of the unexpected maintained throughout the record.
Jamie Lenman’s vocals display remarkable versatility and power, whispering a smoky intro to ‘Oh The Shame’ before roaring into a raging chorus. Lenman’s work on guitar is also worthy of high praise, chugging through ‘Fall Of The Bastille’, skipping across impossibly complex signatures on ‘Horror Show’ and unleashing a soaring solo on ‘Tonight My Wife Is Your Wife’.
Bassist Jon Pearce lays a flawless foundation for his bandmates, his grooving solo on ‘Our Song’ a rare foray onto the centre stage. Pearce’s tireless work allows drummer Guy Davies to pursue more exploratory paths, pushing the rhythm into uncharted realms and displaying technical brilliance.
The album closes with a poignant farewell, Lenman’s voice shredded with sorrow as a piano outro emerges from the distortion and brings a haunting conclusion to proceedings.
Reuben had been working hard on the live circuit before recording Racecar Is Racecar Backwards and the additional disc is a wonderful reminder of just how good those gigs were. The energy the band produces, whilst remaining incredibly tight is impressive. It’s impossible to listen without being transported back to a packed academy venue, with all the joy and excitement that their gigs could generate.
These recordings will give veterans from those 2004 tours a wonderful chance to rediscover an album that packed the dance floor at many a rock club, as well as an opportunity to revive memories of Reuben’s awesome live show. But more than a throw back to a carefree age, this re-release demonstrates a formidable band hitting their stride very quickly. Definitely one for their cult following, yet also a package that deserves exploration by fans of hard rock who missed them first time around.
Hell Is For Heroes, Jarcrew, Mclusky… there was a short period where hard rock bands, unafraid of sophisticated musicality burst onto the scene. And Reuben were at their forefront.
It’s an absolute pleasure to revisit Racecar Is Racecar Backwards and to be spoilt with additional live and session tracks.