COWBOY PROSTITUTES – Cowboy Prostitutes

COWBOY PROSTITUTES - Cowboy Prostitutes


Retrospect Records
Release Date: January 2004

Guitars: B+
Bass: C+
Percussion: B
Keyboards: B
Vocals: C
Lyrics: C+
Recording Quality: C
Originality: B+
Overall Rating: B+

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This Swedish 5-man band developed themselves around the concept of wanting to take the frills out of Rock ‘n’ Roll, opting instead to make music that was raw, in-your-face, fast, and from the heart. The result of this mission statement manifested itself via the creation of the Cowboy Prostitutes (are there Cowboys in Sweden?), a garage band style Hard Rock group whose music comes through as a cross between Jackyl, early Cinderella, Fastway, early Motley Crue, and The Ramones in their self-titled debut full-length album on Retrospect Records.

By and large, the Cowboy Prostitutes debut album is a huge success … the band is successful in capturing that fresh garage band “edge” to their music, and their sound has an element of urgency wrapped in a “We don’t really give an ‘eff’ about what anyone thinks of us” attitude. The album contains 10 tracks elapsing a total of about 38.5 minutes (a tad frugal by today’s standards) of solid Hard Rock music, with a touch of Honky Tonk thrown in for good measure. Other than the style and approach of the Cowboy Prostitutes, the other truly impressive aspect of this album is the dual guitar attack of Anders Wickstrom and Martin Wilhelmsson. Each song is filled with impressive and easy to relate to riffs, and many of the solos appear to be performed in a dual lead role, whereby the guitarists share spotlight duties at various junctures within most songs. In the end, the pace and demeanor of the album is clearly being defined by the solid play of these two musicians.

Of the 10 tracks on this debut CD, 5 are good and 5 are great. Most bands, especially rookie bands, shoot their wad early and place their “can’t miss” best songs at the beginning of the album. This Cowboy Prostitutes album is a bit different in that respect, however, as they actually wait until the 4th track, “Joy,” a song dedicated to the late Joey Ramone, to fully come together as a band. “Joy,” an obvious “happy” title for a song, is the 1st on this album that really accentuates the keyboard play of Andreas Stromback, and, oddly enough, he delivers some beautifully somber enhancements to this mantra that clearly make the “joy” of the song bittersweet … well done.

Track 5, “Welcome Back,” another stellar tune, and the 7th song, “Television,” have all of the elements to be Top 40 hits, if given the chance. “Television,” in particular, has a solid and catchy riff, good pace and lyrical rhythm, a catchy chorus, and even some harmonica play thrown in for good measure … all accomplished without deviating from the band’s mission statement one iota. Track 8, “Alive ‘n’ Well,” with its up-tempo Hendrix-ish riff, and Track 9, “Ghost of Venice,” round out the remaining “great” tracks on this album.

The remaining 5 tracks, as mentioned, are also good, but what prevents them from also earning “great” accolades is the vocal production/vocal delivery of Luca Isabelle. Luca has a raspy voice, similar in sound to Jesse Dupree (Jackyl) and/or Tom Keifer (Cinderella). His singing style, more often than not, is to sort of shout the lyrics (in a non-offensive, somewhat jovial way) rather than to truly sing them. The production of this CD is very much of the quality found in many 1980’s recordings (likely done purposefully to preserve the garage band sound), but in going a tad retro, Luca’s voice comes through a bit distant and understated compared to the instruments in about half of the songs. This detached vocal effect kind of makes you want to get a hold of that original mixing sound board and boost the vocal frequencies a notch or 2 to get Luca more in the forefront of the band’s music. The instrument play and sound on this album is strong throughout, but, unfortunately, the vocal production/delivery takes half the songs down a step from also attaining a “greatness” designation.

Overall, though, this is an impressive and solid effort from these Scandinavian Cowboys. All 10 tracks are worthy inclusions, and this is certainly an album that would have had a chance to hit platinum status had it been released in say 1987. Of course, almost 20 years later, the industry’s willingness and appetite to promote and “take a chance” on a band like the Cowboy Prostitutes is not nearly as voracious, but for those of us who still appreciate no-frills, in-your-face Hard Rock with a tinge of “bad boy” attitude and passion, this CD is a can’t miss buy opportunity.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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