Cromwell – At The Gallop (Got Kinda Lost Records)

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Cromwell were an Irish band from the mid-’70s likely besotted with dreams of becoming the next Thin Lizzy, Mott The Hoople, or Rolling Stones. That never happened, of course, but they did manage to get a self-released album and a few singles out into the marketplace before receding into obscurity. Decades later that album plays like a minor entry into the hard rock fray. It’s never jaw-droppingly good, but there’s enough badass swagger and period charm to keep listeners leaning forward to see where the band goes next. Guitarist Patrick Brady is notable for his tasteful licks and tone, both of which impress throughout. Vocals are Cromwell’s weakness, staying too overly indebted to their influences to matter. Opener “Ireland (The Wild One)” aims for Phil Lynott, but falls several yards short of the goal line. “Down on The Town” is as close to being a cover of “Jumping Jack Flash,” as “First Day” is to Mott’s “All The Young Dudes”…and that’s just the first three songs. “Guinness Rock” is a much heavier number, with a palpable Sabbath influence in the guitar work.

Cromwell’s pre-album singles are included as bonus tracks, including a raw high-energy number, “Stomp Stomp Stomp,” and another, “You Hate It To Turn”, which sounds like it could have come from Zeppelin III. Like the album itself, none of these songs will have you re-thinking everything you thought you knew about ’70s hard rock. But if you cut your teeth on this kind of stuff, Cromwell is a valid reminder of why you liked it in the first place.