Crown Of Thorns – Faith

January 01, 1970

(Lost Cathedral Records)


If Faith, the
latest and umpteenth album from Crown Of Thorns sounds like a throwback to the
simpler, harder-rocking ’80s it’s because…well…in their heart of hearts, Crown
Of Thorns is an ’80s rock band. OK,
so why haven’t you heard of them? Well, bunkie, while the rest of the free
world has been listening to – and enormously digging – Crown Of Thorns since
the mid-‘90s, we Americanos have been blissfully unaware of the band’s melodic
rock milieu for just about as long.


Crown Of Thorns is the brainchild of guitarist Jean
Beauvoir, the striking African-American gent of Haitian descent sporting a
bright white Mohawk and slapping out bass lines behind Wendy O. in the
Plasmatics back in the day. He moved on from that punk-rock nihilist’s dream gig
to working with Little Steven (Van Zandt) in the original Disciples of Soul
band, a position for which Beauvoir was imminently qualified in that he served
as band director for soul legend Gary “U.S.” Bonds when he was only thirteen freakin’ years old!


The inevitable solo career followed, and Beauvoir’s
uber-cool 1986 debut, Drums Along The
, yielded a minor hit in the song “Feel The Heat,” used by
Sly Stallone as the theme song for his piddlin’ action-wanker Cobra. Sadly, Beauvoir’s sophomore
effort found him abandoning the hard rock meme in favor of Prince-styled,
carbon-copy dance tunes. A few other solo works appeared and just-as-quickly
disappeared, but Beauvoir kept busy with album production for other artists,
and recordings with not one, but two side bands – Voodoo X and Crown Of Thorns
– as well as his current role as a suit-and-tie exec with Little Steven’s Renegade
Nation company.


Which brings us back to the present and Crown Of Thorns. Faith is the first proper stateside
Crown Of Thorns release that this intrepid reporter could find, and Beauvoir’s
roster this time around includes journeyman guitarist Tommy Lafferty and
bassist Michael Paige, along with drummer Hawk Lopez. Together, the foursome
have put together an odd little collection of songs that showcase sleek
contemporary styling on the outside, but under the hood it’s all bruising
muscle-car machismo. As these things go, Faith ain’t half bad, with the rocking tunes outnumbering the sensitive mid-tempo
emotional tearfests by a ratio of somewhere around 1.5:1, give or take a small


Luckily, even when Beauvoir gets a little too ego-baring
with his performance, Lafferty comes along to slap the song back in line with a
little ole-fashioned turgid fretscreaming. The title track opens with moody
instrumental atmospherics before barreling, full-bore, into an explosive
guitar-driven rocker. “All In My Head” sounds like it could be a
field recording from Hollywood
Boulevard circa 1987, with lots of loudly amped-up
guitars, locomotive rhythms, and a little synth-poop to glue everything


The blistering “Rock Ready” is a stomp-n-smash
pseudo-metal stormbringer with plodding rhythms and a wonderfully clichéd
call-and-response chorus. The album’s “bonus tracks” (bonus for who?
Aren’t they part of the CD?) includes a no-holds-barred cover of Steppenwolf’s
classic “Born To Be Wild,” and if Beauvoir’s soulful black snake moan
doesn’t quite have the mojo of John Kay’s bent exhaust pipes, the band’s
faithful recreation of the song’s original menace touches this writer in places
better left unmentioned.


While Crown Of Thorns may be a contemporary rock band, their
roots are definitely in an earlier era, and Faith‘s
good-natured slap-n-tickle picks up the finer points of ’80s hard rock and
metal and distils them into a strongish elixir fit for today’s Rock Band and Guitar Hero addicted youth.


Standout Tracks: “Faith,” “Home Again,” “Rock Ready,” “Born



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