October 5, 2022

Formed in Southern California in 2011, Robert Jon & The Wreck (RJTW) has been taking the southern rock sound established on the East Coast and bringing it to the West Coast. Since that time, the quintet of Robert Jon Burrison (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Andrew Espantman (Drums/Background Vocals), Steve Maggiora (Keys/ Background Vocals), Henry Schneekluth (Lead Guitar/Background Vocals), Warren Murrel (Bass) have been having great fun doing what they know best – putting on electrifying shows and wowing audiences globally with their soaring guitar leads, infectious grooves, rich vocal harmonies and great tunes. Over the years they’ve been touring constantly into Europe and beyond, then returning to California and prolifically pumping out new material.

the happy five-some!

2019 saw the band ‘up the ante’ further with the release of their fourth studio album Take Me Higher, which took them all over the world, with three separate outings to mainland Europe, to the UK playing the Ramblin Man Fair in the UK alongside Foreigner and Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and to the Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea Mediterranean Blues Cruise alongside Joe Bonamassa. The following year saw the release of Last Light on the Highway to rave reviews, it was a soaring success everywhere even with the global setbacks caused by COVID-19. During that lockdown time, they pulled together to write and record their sixth studio album Shine a Light on Me Brother, laying the foundations for yet more multiple European excursions, including festival performances at Bospop in the Netherlands and a full UK tour. Australian and Japanese tours are in the pipeline, their star is well and truly shining!

This new album Wreckage Vol. 2 showcases the last three years’ live efforts with a couple of extra goodies thrown in, and sets the scene for a further UK and European tour in early 2023. The collection includes a couple of brand-new song debuts, fresh versions of fan favourites, hot-off-the-press live recordings of The Wreck’s critically acclaimed, searing 2022 singles and a more-than-decent cover of The Band’s “The Weight”.

Robert Jon & The Wreck, not pictured performing a gentle ballad (photo: Phil Honley)

The album kicks off (in so many ways!) with a couple of tracks from the Belgian leg of the summer 2022 tour, She’s a Fighter featuring frequently as the opening song of the set on many nights of that tour. It’s followed by Waiting For Your Man, a ‘newbie’ written earlier this year. Then we have a trio of tracks recorded just before the Covid pandemic at the Shuffle Brothers Studios in Gallatin Tennessee. The band was on a tour in the Southern United States but recorded these three on a day off! Rescue Train is one of the band’s oldest songs and is some of the first music Robert ever recorded. It’s followed by their funky version of The Weight that they’ve been playing for years in bars across the US. Cannonball completes the trio, it’s one of only a few instrumentals by the band and originally appeared on Last Light on the Highway. With its extended solo section, this track has a different feel each time it is played live.

Next up is a double act from June 2020 at Sunset Sound. Dark Roses is one of RJTW’s more sentimental songs written about the real-life loss of a friend who was close to the band. It’s followed by On the Run, originally recorded in 2014 and featured in the band’s live show for almost a decade. Lastly we have a pair of songs recorded live at the DJE Livestream Studio in Foothill Ranch, California. Something to Remember Me By features a particularly fine heavy guitar riff, and the album is brought to to a close by Witchcraft, a classic RJTW instrumental that often lasts over 10 minutes live. The track has several different sections and highlights Henry and Steve’s stellar guitar and keys work during the extended solos.

All in all, Wreckage Vol. 2 captures all the energy and excitement that Robert Jon & The Wreck generate every time they perform to their growing fanbase – as perfectly summed up by my Velvet Thunder colleague Graeme Stroud’s review of the Sittingbourne, Kent, UK gig of September 2021. As Graeme put it, “the peace was certainly shattered when the Wrecking crew powered into their set!”

Live, the band range from trademark boogieing, hard-rocking tracks, funky riff-driven numbers, a touch of heavy metal, and some slow blues-driven work-outs – “there is nothing too flashy about the band, Robert Jon himself being a genially charismatic, gravel-voiced, bushy-bearded front man, and his good ol’ boys are all superb musicians, capable of near-telepathic rise and fall, power and subtlety, which makes every number a roller coaster in its own right!” Enjoy!

The album’s closing live number, Witchcraft – phwoargh!

TRACK LISTING

1.       She’s A Fighter (Live from Ancienne Belgique)

2.       Waiting For Your Man (Live from Ancienne Belgique)

3.       Rescue Train (Live from Shuffle Brother Studios)

4.       The Weight (Live from Shuffle Brother Studios)

5.       Old Hotel Room (Live from Sunset Sound)

6.       Dark Roses (Live from Sunset Sound)

7.       On The Run (Live from Sunset Sound)

8.       Cannonball (Live from Shuffle Brother Studios)

9.       Something To Remember Me By (Live from DJE Livestream Studio)

10.     Witchcraft (Live from DJE Livestream Studio)