Sound: Justin Hawkins, former lead singer of The Darkness, has returned to the spotlight with a new band. The Darkness were undeniably very heavily influenced by bands such as Queen and AC/DC but were arguably let down by the commercial aspects of their songwriting. Hot Leg provide a much more focused sound than their predecessors and describe their musical style as "Man-Rock". Kudos to them then for justifying the label they have given themselves, although some may be unconvinced that Justin Hawkins' voice is suited to Hot Leg, who are a harder rock act than his former band. Indeed his falsetto is likely to polarise opinion but that will be focused on later on.
Guitar wise, there are some very impressive riffs on show, notably "I've Met Jesus," a straightforward rock song with added elements of bluesy country all anchored on a powerful riff that immediately harks back to AC/DC. There are good guitar solos in abundance and Hawkins' gritty blues rock lickbag contrasts very nicely with his foil, the very technically proficient Pete "Liquid Guitar Hands" Rinaldi.
The sound can occasionally be inconsistent though; there are elements of neo-classical in "Chickens" and a distinct modern rock vibe to "Cocktails," and while these are not intrinsically bad things, they might initially feel slightly alien to classic rock fans. Overall though they provide a nice flavour and keep the album unique. It's because of small elements like this in each song that the album proves to ultimately be a varied listen that never strays too far from it's successful formula of strong riffs, outrageous falsetto and impressive guitar solos. // 9
Lyrics: This is the part of the album that is most likely to divide opinion heavily. The album is handled in an incredibly tongue in cheek manner (this is evident not only in the music but in the stage show; the outfit's are ridiculous! ) and this is most prominent in the lyrics and singing. Hawkins' falsetto is high in the mix and deservedly so; it's a pleasure to listen to and even if you don't like it there's no denying his sheer technical prowess as a singer. Obviously not everybody is going to like this though and as such the album's appeal is limited.
Lyrically speaking the album is again a silly affair, with subject matter ranging from chickens to Jesus. Hawkins must be applauded for his sheer creativity; "Cocktails" gives him an excuse to shriek "coo-o-oo-oo-oooock/cock, cock, c-cocktails" while escaping the Parental Advisory sticker, although this is going to be viewed as incredibly immature by many listeners; the same goes for "Gay in the 80s".
But the lyrics are not meant to be deep or meaningful and they fit with the outwardly lighthearted demeanor of the music. In my opinion Hawkins deserves a ten out of ten but unfortunately music is strictly based on taste, and this album will inevitably polarise opinion among rock fans. // 7
Overall Impression: Hot Leg are among a growing number of excellent classic rock revivalists, currently helmed by Airbourne and The Answer. Among these artists are the other band to spring from the remains of The Darkness, and these make for an interesting comparison.
It's plain to see who gave what to The Darkness and it really demonstrates just what an individual Hawkins is; his ability to be both a serious rock musician and an outrageous glam rock star at the same time is impressive and makes for a scintillating live show that I cannot recommend enough. Of course a live show would be nothing without tunes and they are certainly here. For me the highlights of the album were "I've Met Jesus," "Prima Donna," and "Kissing In The Wind," the latter providing an impressively mature ending to the album which has grandeur without pomposity.
I cannot stress enough that Hawkins falsetto is very much like marmite. But the fact is that if you can't stand Hawkins you probably haven't read this far and have probably already dismissed Hot Leg.
This would be a mistake. The Leg manage to blend classic riffs, brilliant singing, and superb guitar work with a multitude of interesting elements such as the country inflections of the rhythm guitar on "I've Met Jesus," and while it almost seems funny at times, it's a worthwhile listen which everybody will get something out of.
This music doesn't have extreme longevity; it's probably too silly to warrant a position as a piece of serious music in most peoples eyes which is a real shame because behind the glitter and the glam lies a solid rock and roll record. // 9