Bands rarely stay unchanged be it those who find success or those who have only stayed relevant by virtue of creativity. Diesel Park West can hardly claim success if worldwide recognition is the marker and yet creatively it might be said they are a hugely successful band and one which is without question influential.
After the debut album Shakespeare Alabama had ran its initial course in late 1989 the band parted with drummer Moth Smith after a series of missed shows and unreliability among other more deep- routed issues. It was a painful parting no matter how inevitable and one which remained an unhealed wound for the next ten years despite the band going on to have their biggest hit single so far in 92 and also recording a string of deeply rich albums during the nineties starting in 93 with the magnificent Corporate Waltz.
Shows were better and better and the tsunami of creativity just kept a rollin with Smiths replacement becoming a seriously important contributor. However bands are after all made up of human beings who are perhaps more than most affected by backward leaning emotion especially after time and events have moved on with Diesel Park West being no exception to at least this one rule. So it was that at the tail end of 1998 after a one off reunited hometown gig the band felt almost obliged to record again with the original line up including Smith
The resultant album is this “Hang Johnson” recorded in early 1999 named too after graffiti still at that time visible on the wall of a Freemason lodge not far from the studio written by a disgruntled student in the heady political year of 1968 aimed at LBJ and his extended bombing campaign.
The record captures what might have developed between the original four had things been different but of course as if on cue after a few London shows old resentments resurfaced. These performances here however are fantastic with Rick Willsons sinewy Telecaster guitar snaking in and out of Butlers singing which seems to be unimpaired by time. Great songs are underpinned by Geoff Beavans extraordinary bass playing and yes the idiosyncratic precision of Moth Smiths drumming. Just like the old days and sadly just like the old days in every way so it was that the reunited line up eventually folded by mid 1999. Songs like Singing Life and Travel The Earth capture the spirit whilst You’ll See is an outright Diesels definitive classic worthy of anything on Shakespeare Alabama if not above . Its difficult to rock n roll and be emotionally soulful at the same time but this record manages to do that very thing. The band of course shook itself down regrouped and carried on into the noughties the tens and now the twenties continuing as it does to this day but for those interested in this particular short lived but highly charged slice of time Hang Johnson is a must.
Geoff Beavan- bass
John Butler- vocals gtr
Rick Willson- gtr vocals
Dave “Moth” Smith- drums
|1||Travel The Earth||3:37|
|5||Don’t Tell Me (We Can Belong Here)||4:30|
|7||Creatures Of The World||5:28|
|8||Travel The Earth (Live)||4:36|
|9||Chateaux Burning (Live)||4:22|
|10||Singing Life (Live)||4:44|
|12||A House Divided (Live)||6:14|
|13||When The Hoodoo Comes (Live)||5:30|
|14||Mr Soul (Live)||3:24|