BY MICHAEL TOLAND
When guitarist Scott Ian from thrash metal icon Anthrax turned 50, he decided to throw himself the nerdiest birthday party possible: he would get together with some pals to form a one-off cover band that would put on a show at his house. The twist was that the covers were dedicated to one repertoire – that of defunct neo-classic rock band Mother Superior (better known as the second incarnation of Rollins Band – cf. Get Some Go Again and Nice). AND the ad hoc outfit was fronted by MS singer/songwriter/guitarist Jim Wilson. The group named itself Motor Sister after the MS tune “Little Motor Sister,” had a grand old time at the party and moved on.
One of the invited guests, however, was an executive at Metal Blade. A contract was offered and now we have Ride, an album of covers from a band most people haven’t heard of, and in which interest will likely come from fans of the metal luminaries (besides Ian, Fates Warning bassist Joey Vera and Cult/White Zombie/Helmet/Exodus/Testament drummer John Tempesta join in) involved, even though it’s nothing any of their day jobs. If you can put its odd genesis aside, though, you’ll find a solid heavy rock & roll record.
Wilson knows his way around riff-oriented classic rock tunes, which Ian and company give a power charge they never got during the Superior era. Wilson’s soul-influenced singing – bolstered by harmonies from Pearl Aday, who besides being Ian’s wife and Wilson’s current employer is also Meat Loaf’s daughter – occasionally sounds odd atop metallicized stomps like “A-Hole” and “Fork in the Road,” but it also gives the tracks a focal point beyond distorted six-string attack. When it all comes together, as on righteous rockers “Whore” and “This Song Reminds Me of You,” the dramatic epic “Devil Wind” and the surprising (or maybe it shouldn’t be – one of Wilson’s other gigs is with Sparks) pop tune “Head Hanging Low,” the concept seems less like a busperson’s holiday and more like an organically grown band.
Whether Motor Sister continues beyond this album seems doubtful – it probably depends on whether or not the members decide to write original material. But for the length of Ride, the band conveys its joy in playing these songs enthusiastically and loudly.
DOWNLOAD: “This Song Reminds Me of You,” “Head Hanging Low,” “Devil Wind”