RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Ricky Byrd – Lifer
Kayos Records

Rating: A

Ricky Byrd is best known as the skinny axe slinging punky looking dude in the Joan Jett video for “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Byrd, in fact, is the most famous Blackheart and was Joan’s go to guy during the early years of her band. Ricky went on to lend his talents to many famous artists including Ian Hunter, South Side Johnny and Roger Daltrey.

The Byrdman is a huge fan of three things: A) New York City, B) The Yankees and C) Rock and Roll. His eyes are always open wide and a grin can usually be found on his face.

With his latest effort, Lifer, Byrd reaches all spectrums of his life…the past, through the music he fell in love with, the present day, where he has learned his lessons from the rock and roll lifestyle and now is very active being a sober New York rock and roll sorta guy…and his future, which, so long as the plug stays in the jug, and he has his lovely wife by his side, and his guitar on his lap, seems bright.

Byrd’s love of music overtook his life at a young age as he declares, “After school I would lock myself away in my room and feast on a steady diet of The Stones, Faces (Small and otherwise), Humble Pie (in fact anything Steve Marriott!),the Who, Free, Zeppelin, Cream, Mountain, Johnny & Edgar Winter, Beck, Bowie and of course Mott The Hoople. Through their music I was able to figure out who I was, and what I wanted to do with my life. They led me straight to the ‘must have’ Blues and Soul records I might never have heard, if not for reading the latest edition of Sounds, Melody Maker, Cream or Circus magazine. Between those pages I found out what ‘they’ listened to!”

The opening track on Lifer, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boys” shows that Byrd was paying attention to Ian Hunter during his time with the muse, as the song could be on Mott the Hoople’s Greatest Hits. This song, along with the rest of the album, are pure, unadulterated, fun, emotional and enticing gems—each song a nugget of truth in the life of Byrd. “Married Man” sees him talk about the love of his life while “Dream Big” shows he still has dreams despite the massive success he has achieved during his lifetime.

The music on Lifer is an amalgamation of his influences, yet he is still able to stamp his larger than life personality on top of it all. These songs are not just music to Byrd, they are bits and pieces of his heart and soul. He is a true artist and this is his canvass. Suffice it to say, he’s created a masterpiece.

While the music is not balls to the wall rock and roll, it is not subtle or sublime, either. It does not hit you over the head, yet you can’t help but pay attention to it. This unique mixture of rock and roll stew makes a review rather hard to write. This is part Mott, part Stones, and part Faces, part Pie and part Byrd— actually, it’s a lot Byrd with the rest thrown in for flavor.

The bottom line here is that it is inspiring to see, and hear, a true musician sing and play with such passion well past the days he filled up stadiums.

And, he’s a nice guy. Seriously, he is. That is what makes him even more special. I happen to know that even as Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of his home, and ruined priceless heirlooms, Byrd was out in the streets within a day delivering food to those who were hit worse than he was.

With an attitude like that, how can you not love this guy?

If I had to use one word to describe Lifer by Ricky Byrd is would be a four letter one…REAL.

Visit www.rickybyrd.com and pick up your copy today!

By Jeb Wright