Hunt Sales remains one of rock’s most recognizable drummers, with an unmistakable swing and, of course, introduction to the omnipresent Iggy Pop number “Lust for Life,” he long ago secured his place in rock ‘n’ roll infamy. But he didn’t stop there: across two albums and an EP in the sliver between the ‘80s and ‘90s, he, along with his brother, Tony (bass), formed one of the great rhythm sections in Tin Machine. Steeped in blues as much as it was in the harder sounds that permeated the culture at the time, the band was fronted as much by David Bowie as it was unapologetic punk attitude. The singer famously wore a t-shirt which read, “Fuck you I’m in Tin Machine.”

But Sales’ history, as remarkable as it is, is just that. His present status as solo artist is one of his boldest moves. With the arrival of Get Your Shit Together, the veteran musician arrives with a soulful album littered with the kind of street level poetry one would expect from the late Lou Reed or some other keen-eyed survivor. The collection of songs ain’t always pretty. There are flashes of the artist’s admitted struggles with crime, poverty and addiction. Stamped into his personality and his music is a boldness that commands respect.

The album has an appropriately raw feel, occasionally recalling the late R.L. Burnside’s Fat Possum efforts, other times capturing the electricity of Humble Pie at its Frampton-era peak. Just as Tin Machine was a blues band in the sense that it was a response to a world that was losing its moral center, the Hunt Sales Memorial cut from the same cloth.

“Sorry Baby” is an unapologetic portrait of a junkie who just can’t seem to get straight, the lure of the needle powerful enough that the speaker in the song has to jam it in his neck. “Shimekra’s Got the Hook Up” glides with an early rock ‘n’ roll feel while “Angel of Darkness,” a walk across the axis of love and hate, is gritty enough that you can almost feel the dirt stirring up from the grooves.

Sales isn’t just strutting out stories of junkie life or broken relationships, he’s reporting on the realities he knows. He’s also not afraid to temper those darker moments, the ones that not all of us are privy to but can certainly imagine, with the perfectly relatable “One Day,” a meditation on the passing of generations and the sense of understanding that time can bring.

Elsewhere, the aptly titled “It Ain’t Easy,” “Bitch Done Left” and “Here I Go Again” further the album’s motif. Closer “Cleveland Street Memphis” stands out amid the rest of the record. A soulful instrumental, it feels like it was conjured up, deep in the night, from thin air. Somehow, despite being at slight stylistic odds with other tracks here, it’s the perfect exit strategy for a record that has taken us to do some dark places and asked us to sort out some seemingly irreconcilable matters.

Maybe that alone is what makes Get Your Shit Together such a compelling effort. Perhaps Sales is asking us to examine our own trials and failings and bring them into the light where we can finally see them and maybe drive away the fear behind the foibles. Then again, maybe it’s just a blast of a rock ‘n’ roll record that isn’t concerned with polish or apology, a survivor’s tale told without much more behind it than having a good time all the time. Either way, here’s hoping that Sales continues to make records that provide us with vignettes of glorious light amidst the harrowing darkness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Altitudes & Attitude: Get It Out

Brings together Anthrax bassist Frank Bello with Megadeth’s David Ellefson and A Perfect C…