The Naked Flame
Ivan Julian was the guitarist who played alongside Robert Quine in Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Unfairly, Quine received the lion’s share of the accolades while his dearest friend played in the shadows. (Informed critics always knew Julian’s worth.) 2011’s The Naked Flame should go a long way towards establishing Julian’s credentials once and for all. The album is a powerful and demanding statement. Where so much rock music has turned towards imploding within itself, Julian determinedly blows things out. “The Waves” is a brilliant track that demands the airwaves with guitar lines that go into interstellar overdrive. “A Young Man’s Money” is tough, cheeky garage rock with guitars that twist and freak like the blues turned into jagged post-punk attacks. The wild mania of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band drives the furious pound of “The Naked Flame” and the crazed stomp of “The Funky Beat In Siamese.” The simple rock ‘n’ roll progression on “Hardwired” gets a few extra volts. “Sticky” is a beautifully warped ballad. “You Is Dead” twists a gospel blues into a demented acoustic dirge. It’s a brilliant album from one of rock music’s most criminally overlooked guitarists.