THE FOUR HORSEMEN
GETTIN’ PRETTY GOOD…AT BARELY GETTIN’ BY
Released on May 14, 1996 (Magnetic Air)
The Four Horsemen are really one band that should need no introduction. It all started with (ironically) five hard-partying guys from Los Angeles who hit the scene with their first full length album in 1991 to huge critical and commercial success. But then life happened.
As with most of these bands, grunge came along and buried the whole genre of “party rock”, taking many bands down with it. Soon after the release of Nobody Said It Was Easy, singer Frank C Starr was re-arrested on drug charges and spent a year in jail as a result. Their record label dropped them and eventually Haggis (guitar) and Ben Pape (bass) got tired of the scene and quit the band. To make matters worse, drummer Ken “Dimwit” Montgomery died of a drug overdose in September 1994, and a year later, singer Starr was hit by a drunk driver while on his Harley. Starr spent four years in a coma, eventually dying in 1999.
Guitarist Dave Lizmi put together a new lineup for Gettin’ Pretty Good…At Barely Gettin’ By. Frank C Starr managed to record many of the vocal tracks before his accident, and the addition of Pharaoh on Bass and Randy Cooke playing drums all combined to produce a respectable follow-up to Nobody Said It Was Easy.
Gettin’ Pretty Good…. is a little more relaxed, and considerably more thought provoking than the first record. The band had clearly matured due to the tragedies which befell it. At the same time, Gettin’ Pretty Good… is a solid hard rock offering. The Four Horsemen have been called country rock, stoner rock, biker rock, whatever. They know good time party rock.
Several of the songs, including the lead off track “Still Alive and Well”, are tributes to either fallen members or the resiliency of the band itself. The title song opens with a dreamy flange guitar, and cuts into a serious groove. Production is excellent and every instrument comes out clean and clear. “Drunk Again” is flat out party rock with a little story to tell about dealing with a breakup.
“Livin’ These Blues” is a mid tempo blues rocker with a catchy chorus. “Song For Absent Friends” is exactly what you would expect given the band’s troubles. An acoustic ode to Dimwit, it is personal and no doubt therapeutic for the band. The next track “Keep Your Life” switches immediately away from the prior depressing song and is dare I say a happy song. Sorta, anyway.
“Hot Rod” links back to The Four Horsemen’s first album with some crazy guitar work and intensity. It’s driving music. “Rock My Universe” is another solid rocker, with a memorable chorus. From the very first sustained power chord of “Back In Business Again”, the listener knows this is going to be an ugly tune. It tells the story of the band and its record company troubles and is a strong song. “Hit the Road” is a hillbilly stomp in good fun, and “Keep On Keepin On” is a road song at its best. The thing about The Four Horsemen is that even going back to Nobody Said It Was Easy, they could write anthemic, catchy, sing-along tunes. “My Song” is very much like that, as is the final track, “What the Hell Went Wrong”.
Now full disclosure. The Four Horsemen’s two studio albums were required listening during my college years. When good hard rock was going downhill fast, these were some of my go-to best choices. That said, I don’t think I’m alone. Black Stone Cherry in particular has a harder edge, but I can still hear comparisons 20 years later. I look forward to a Sleaze Roxx review of Nobody Said It Was Easy‘s 25th year anniversary sometime this fall!
01. Still Alive And Well
02. Gettin’ Pretty Good At Barely Gettin’ By
03, Drunk Again
04. Livin’ These Blues
05. Song For Absent Friends
06. Keep Your Life
07. Hot Rod
08. Rock My Universe
09. Back In Business Again
10. Hit The Road
11. Keep On Keepin’ On
12. My Song
13. What The Hell Went Wrong
Frank C Starr – vocals
Dave Lizmi – guitar
Pharaoh – bass
Randy Cooke – drums
Reviewed by Metal Mike for Sleaze Roxx, May 2016
Track #3 from the CD, Gettin’ Pretty Good… at Barely Gettin’ By (1996) – Magnetic Air RecordsBuy on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gettin-pretty-…
Track #2 from the CD, Gettin’ Pretty Good… at Barely Gettin’ By (1996) – Magnetic AirBuy on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gettin-pretty-good-at-…