All hail the king! The king has returned! Well, he sure was the king when he was writing the brilliant songs that encompassed the The Smiths career and now Johnny Marr has embarked on his solo career. Having previously recorded with Bernard Sumner of New Order on the Electronic project, as well as having played guitar on albums by Billy Bragg, The Pretenders, Kirsty MacColl, The The, and Neil Finn, Marr wanted to do something of his own, as well as sing his own material, so The Healers were formed. He roped in former Kula Shaker bass player Alonza Bevin and Ringo Starr's fellow skin bashing progeny, Zak Starkey and off they went. Boomslang is a melange of Manchester's music history, like the excellent blend of 1994 Oasis, 1995 Stone Roses and 1996 Charlatans that is album opener "Last Ride" (featured way back on Player .028 for us rooster chested types). The album is rooted in the late '80s/early '90s movement known as baggy, all shuffly drum parts and groovy basslines, enhanced by Marr's distinctive strumming. "Caught Up" falls into this category, the slide guitar bringing to mind fellow Manc John Squire of the Roses, while "Down On The Corner" is more of a campfire sing-a-long, the acoustic guitar line evoking singer/songwriters of times long past. Although the album is steeped in history, it is hardly derivative: it's just that Johnny knows a sound he likes and he works with it. It works for me.
JEREMY P. GOLDSTEIN