Back in ‘87 no one really knew what to think of these biker dudes and their blend of ass-kicking, old school rock and roll. This was during the height of hair metal, so you can imagine what the industry must have thought around the time. These guys probably stuck out like sore thumbs. Fast forwarding to the nineties, Little Caesar added some R&B influence into their blend of rock with a couple of Motown covers, which worked well for the band and saw them opening up for KISS, Billy Idol, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. Though that’s not all the fame they achieved, as frontman Ron Young will be forever immortalized as the infamous biker that Arnold Schwarzenegger tussles with in Terminator II: Judgement Day, a film that many consider to be one of the best ever made – certainly in the action category and with an added relevance today (so give it a view, if you haven’t).
That brings us to their fifth album and seventh release overall, which is undoubtely as strong as anything else that they’ve produced. Yes, to the current generation this could be seen as “dadrock” and I completely understand the sentiment. I do. But me being the old codger that I am slowly becoming; I found some real meat to these classic rock influenced cuts, including a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” which the band perform with not only an upbeat rock vibe, but a sense of purpose that feels close to the original outlaw country hit. I know that the boys in Devildriver are about to unleash a whole album full of outlaw country covers like this, but “Mama Tried” is not one of those and you’ll be happy with Little Caesar’s rendition.
“21 Again” opens the album with a fair rocking ode to youth, while “Vegas” injects some ZZ Top flair into the mix that can’t be denied. “Crushed Velvet” continues that ZZ Top influence, albeit with the same level of Motown flair that I mentioned earlier. “Good Times” definitely brings on a Bad Company or Foreigner feel, while Lynyrd Skynyrd is massively notable on “Another Fine Mess”. We might even pick up a little bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival from “That’s Alright” which I felt was a fine closer. Make no mistake that this is a much older breed of rock and probably won’t fare too well with everyone, especially those who don’t care about listening to the music that their parents grew up with, but if you don’t entertain this rather immature way of thinking in regards to art, then I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the amount of attention to detail that Little Caesar offer on this rocking little ditty.
Eight is a reminder that traditional rock ‘n’ roll is far from deceased and this underground gem might be just what you’re looking for at your next family gathering. Or at least the kinds of southern get-togethers that I enjoy going to.