One of the hardest-working bands in the UK, Bad Touch, have emerged from the studio with their third album and their first with Marshall Records. Rather than work on their material, road-test it and go into the studio, they found themselves writing and creating in the studio which has paid off. Shake a Leg presents Bad Touch creating songs which come to them instinctually rather than trying to create a Bad Touch song.
From the moment opening track “Lift Your Head Up” kicks in, you know the band has something special on their hands. This is pure, unadulterated Bad Touch. They’ve not changed their sound or formula, they’ve simply ensured they’ve presented their best version of themselves yet. The classic rock they’ve been playing for years is still their focus and when they do it so well, you’re not going to be asking them to stretch their boundaries any time soon.
The blues-drenched crunching guitars of Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings still intertwine each other expertly, George Drewry’s drums and Michael Bailey’s bass are still intent on rattling your fillings and come damn close on “When the Hammer Falls”. Indeed, it’s got the force of a sledgehammer hurtling at you at 100mph. Meanwhile, Stevie Westwood’s voice is as powerful and soulful as ever, showing restraint and not taxing his vocal chords to do anything they ordinarily can’t or shouldn’t.
This album shows them in their best light, giving their tightest performances to date. Where Truth Be Told was more of a slow burn to show its nuances and how great an album it was, Shake a Leg takes a more direct approach and it’s immediate after the first play. Indeed, it’ll have you reaching for the play button or dropping the needle for another listen once the final track finishes.
Where it also shares similarities with its predecessor is its relatable lyrics. A concerted effort to discuss real topics for the majority of the tracks, the band cover ground like the people in your life who are only around for the good times and disappear when shit hits the fan, weathering the storm of bad times with the promise that it will get better and elsewhere, feeling lost and figuring out the answer to the question “Where do I go from here?”
Meanwhile, the afore-mentioned “Lift Your Head Up” looks at the power of live music with regards to the band’s own performances, “Skyman” is an homage to Duane Allman and “I Belong” is not only about a home town but where you consider home. “Dressed to Kill” acts as the spiritual successor to “Good on Me”; just as raucous but less tongue-in-cheek. “Show Me What it Means” continues the upbeat flavour with more boogie to it as one of the punchiest songs on the record.
However, they’re not afraid to bring it down with a ballad or two such as “Bury Me (When I’m Gone)” with its wistful tone or “Believe in Me”. Their melancholic songs have as much heft to them as their songs intended to get people moving and when “I Belong”’s heartfelt lyrics kick in there’s something more to it: maturity. It’s something which is present throughout – that quiet self-confidence in their abilities and the album itself. They don’t pad out the songs for the sake of it and only a couple of the baker’s dozen tracks pass the 4-minute mark. There’s also the sense emanating from them that each and every one was intended to be played live with so many possessing an anthemic chorus. Indeed, it’ll be a tough call for the band to decide which they play whilst acknowledging older songs when they embark on their tour later this month. Unless they want to mix it up every night…
Shake a Leg is the best Bad Touch album to date. There’s not even a debate to be had about this. Where the predecessor saw them tighten things several notches, this is more about them making the minor refinements. There’s no departure, there’s no progression, instead, they’ve found what makes them tick as a band and doubled down to make a tight, muscular album full of confidence. It’s not many bands who can capture their live performances in a studio setting but if any band is capable, it’s Bad Touch.
- Newcastle, University Union – Wednesday 17 October
- Glasgow, The Cathouse – Thursday 18 October
- Inverness, Ironworks – Friday 19 October
- Edinburgh, Bannermans – Saturday 20 October
- Manchester, Academy 3 – Wednesday 31 October
- Derby, The Flowerpot – Thursday 1 November
- Hull, The Welly – Friday 2 November
- Sheffield, Corporation – Saturday 3 November
- Leeds, The Wardrobe – Monday 5 November
- Stockton-on-Tees, ARC – Tuesday 6 November
- Stoke-On-Trent, Eleven – Thursday 8 November
- Norwich, The Waterfront – Friday 9 November
- London, ULU Live – Saturday 10 November
- Southampton, The 1865 – Thursday 15 November
- Bridgewater, Cobblestones – Friday 16 November
- Saltash, Livewire – Saturday 17 November
- Oxford, The Bullingdon – Sunday 18 November
- Wolverhampton, The Robin 2 – Monday 19 November
Header image by Rob Blackham
Shake a Leg is released on 5th October