Album Review: One Last Hard Goodbye by The Loving Cup

THE LOVING CUP/“One Last Hard Goodbye” (Cat. no. LC0002)

REVIEW/by Grahame Rhodes

THE North Wales-based country-tinged rockers, The Loving Cup, have come to the 'difficult third album' time and it's a pleasure to report it is a proverbial cracker! “One Last Hard Goodbye” is a great follow-up to the also recommended “Goofer Dust”, and finds the five-piece delivering a generous 14-track collection of self-penned tunes, which as ever find them touched by the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Black Crowes, the country side of The Rolling Stones, Delaney & Bonnie, and more.

The band comprise of Jaz Livesey (lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion), Andy Vickers (electric and slide guitars, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and backing vocals), Gareth Catterall (electric guitar and backing vocals), Andrew Whitfield (bass guitar) and Neil Roberts (drums, percussion and backing vocals) . . . and here the settled line-up have managed to capture the excitement and swagger of their live performances . . . the album being produced by Ronnie Stone and recorded at Penyffordd and Birkenhead.

They are 'out of the blocks' in fine style on the opening “Hard Goodbye”, which lays down what the band are about . . . Jaz Livesey's warm vocals, the interweaving guitars of Vickers and Catterall, and the no-frills rock steady rhythm section of Whitfield and Roberts; the pace remains up on the punchy and soulful strut of “Too Young To Die”, with some dynamite horns added by Steve Parry.

The pure country ballad of “Walk On Hot Coals” is delivered with a heartfelt, sorrowful vocal from Jaz Livesey, with some sweet electric guitar parts. The band's writing is now one of their strong points and the lovely “Don't Let It Get You Down” is proof of this . . . again very country-tinged with the guitars very much to the fore, with some nice slide and soloing, also featuring on the engaging “Tennessee Lake”, which has some lovely harmony vocals.

Andy Vickers slide work catches the ear again on the great “The Price I Pay”, before the boys rock hard on the tough “Nothing Lasts Forever”, with more horns, and the driving rhythm section excelling. The strutting “Oh Lord” with its catchy chorus has, not surprisingly, a gospel flavour; with the bittersweet “Love Can Be Cruel” another gem here, with all the bands strengths firmly in place.

Elsewhere “Took A Mile” has a gentle rocking West Coast feel to it, and is complete with tasty banjo and more ace harmonies; “Been Down This Road” is a swaggering rocker, with uncredited harmonica, and even better is the driving “Lavender Girl” with some spiky guitar and top vocal from Jaz Livesey. Proceedings end with the a country stroll on “Way Down”, bringing the curtain down on a very fine album indeed.

After garnering plaudits and plays from the likes of Mark Lamarr and Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2,and years of extensive gigging, this is a band very much on the up, and 2012 looks like being their best yet . . . check them out live and also this album!