Released on March 27, 2001 (DreamWorks)
There is no denying that Buckcherry are one of the hardest working bands of the last 20 plus years. They are the textbook definition of “road dogs” and they encapsulate everything that a true rock n’ roll band stands for.
Their 1999 debut, produced by heavyweights Terry Date and Sex Pistols gun-slinger Steve Jones, was a breath of fresh air in a musical climate that was dominated at the time by bland formulaic and manufactured pop, shoe gazers, the new wave of hip-hop, and nu-metal. Propelled by the infectious leadoff single “Lit Up”, Buckcherry’s debut was soaked in sleaze, crunchy guitars from Keith Nelson, razor sharp vocals courtesy of Josh Todd, and was chockfull of sing a long anthems such as “Check Your Head”, “Lawless And Lulu”, “Borderline”, “For The Movies” and “Dirty Mind.” Their image and sound was a wink of ’70s era Aerosmith, a nod to ’70s era Stones, a hint of Appetite For Destruction era Guns N’ Roses, a dash of ’70s era ZZ Top, a heaping table spoon of AC/DC…. and a whole lotta attitude and swagger! What else could a tried and true rock fan ask for?
The band quickly had a buzz surrounding them when the debut album was released in the spring of 1999, and many people obviously felt the same way I did because the album quickly reached gold status. The band also found themselves opening for KISS on the European leg of the Psycho Circus Tour, receiving a coveted slot at Woodstock ’99 that summer, and opening for their musical heroes AC/DC in the spring of 2000 on their Stiff Upper Lip Tour . For me, I was so enamored with the album, and band, that four friends and I even made the trip from a small Canadian city of Sault Ste Marie to Rome, New York to specifically catch their performance at Woodstock ’99 that summer. And in a live setting they didn’t disappoint. They were everything I was hoping they would be, all the while playing in front of a few hundred thousand of their closest friends.
Needless to say, I was beyond eager with anticipation for the follow up to their debut when I received a press release in the early winter months of 2001 at the record store I worked at — Buckcherry’s new album Time Bomb would soon be released. I predicted this would be the album to propel them to new heights, and they would pick up from where a fragmented Guns N’ Roses left off in 1994…. a bonafide good-time bad ass rock n roll band playing for thousands in arenas. Produced by John Travis, Time Bomb was the first Buckcherry album to be recorded as a five piece (second guitarist Yogi Lonich joined after the recording of the debut) but was also the last album to be recorded with this particular line-up.
The album kicks off in high gear with the Guns N’ Roses infused “Frontside”, which grabs you by the throat and threatens to never let go. The second song and lead off single “Ridin’” is one of the best songs that AC/DC never wrote, and screams of sunny days, cruising with your buddies with the windows down, while unapologetically cranking it up, and throwing the devil horns to whoever might be looking at you funny in the process. This track actually contains one of my favourite lines of any song by this band and it shows that music doesn’t need to be depressing or self-loathing, and no band should take themselves so seriously: “I know a place that you oughta go, Calvin’s in the back, your face in my lap and let’s roll”.
The party continues with the title track “Time Bomb”, which is a four on the floor romp with an ending that is reminiscent to the ending of the Guns N’ Roses classic, “Paradise City.” This song is so catchy it has you singing along to the chorus upon first listen. “It’s coming for you, its coming for me…. life ain’t nothing but bitches and money!!!” Indeed….
Just when you think it’s time for a breath, the relentless “Porno Star” is next. I have to say that this song, while still good, is my least favourite from the album and from their entire catalogue. It has a great groove and riff but the song as a whole just never resonated with me. I am likely in the minority though as they still include this in their set from time to time and it always gets a great crowd response. In my opinion, it could be the sequel to “Dirty Mind” from their first album (except not nearly as good), and the prequel to their massive hit “Crazy Bitch” from the following album 15.
“Place In The Sun”, “Underneath” and “Whiskey In the Morning” are all worthy of radio play and could have been follow up singles to “Ridin’” which was officially the only single released from the album. The “dark horse” of the album for me is “Slit My Wrists.” Don’t let the song title fool you though, as it’s another up tempo song that depicts good time memories of days gone by with the one you love, surrounded by palm trees, clear blue skies and walks on the beach with the quiet sea set as the back drop- and the hopes of getting to relive this again through second chances.
I mentioned earlier that Time Bomb includes my least favourite song in the band’s entire repertoire (“Porno Star”) but…. it also includes my absolute favourite! This would be “Slammin’”! For me, this song encompasses everything that is Buckcherry. A catchy riff that you can hum along with, and a chorus that you want to scream along to at the top of your lungs. Although not released as an official single, it is still a concert staple that has both the males and females in attendance shaking their asses- with their hands in the air…. like they just don’t care (sorry, I couldn’t resist). What would a Buckcherry record be without Josh Todd showing off his sensitive side, and with real emotion… and he does this in spades on Time Bomb. There are three ballads on this album, but the one that really pulls at my heart strings is the hidden track called “Open My Eyes” which closes the album. It is a beautiful piano ballad which show cases the strength of Todd’s vocals. It would make Elton and Freddie proud.
All in all, Time Bomb is the complete opposite of “sophomore slump” and is all killer and no filler. In fact, in my opinion, as a complete body of work it exceeds their debut. It’s an album you want playing if you are hosting a pre-bar party and wanting to get people in the mood for the upcoming evening’s festivities. As solid and near perfect as Time Bomb is, my initial predictions for this album 20 years ago were only partially correct. Although the album delivered in content, quality and production, it didn’t perform very well commercially due to literally no support, promotion and backing from their label Dreamworks / Universal. The album was literally left for dead. They did do a small tour opening for Iggy Pop, but once tour support was pulled, it was game over for this version of Buckcherry. Devon Glenn (drums), JB Brightman (bass) and Yogi (guitar) left the band shortly after, leaving Josh Todd and Keith Nelson as the last men standing. They also decided to call it a day, but who knew that Todd and Nelson would re-emerge four years later with a revamped line-up; stronger than ever, and with their best days still ahead of them!
03. Time Bomb
04. Porno Star
05. Place In The Sun
06. (Segue) Helpless
08. Slit My Wrists
09. Whiskey In The Morning
13. Open My Eyes (hidden track)
Josh Todd – vocals
Keith Nelson – guitars
Yogi – guitars
Devon Glenn – drums
JB Brightman – bass
Produced by John Travis
Reviewed by Mark Gregory for Sleaze Roxx, March 2021
Buckcherry‘s “Ridin'” video: