McMeans, John Porter - 1991 Vigilante Man

richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset


ARTIST: McMeans, John Porter
ALBUM: Vigilante Man
LABEL: Subliminal Records
YEAR: 1991


LINEUP: John Porter McMeans - all vocals, all instruments

TRACK LISTING: 01 Vigilante Man * 02 Easy Street * 03 Late Last Night * 04 Baby I'm No Fool * 05 I'm Alright * 06 Last Train


Those older readers with long memories will remember McMeans from his stint as lead singer and guitarist with the excellent US outfit Thunder.

I am a BIG fan of their 'Headphones For Cows' album which contains a number of bona fide AOR classics such as 'Can't Hold On Can't Let Go', 'Midnight Heartache' and 'Say Goodbye'.

After Thunder disbanded, McMeans subsequently concentrated on songwriting for a number of artists including Steve Earle, Kenny Rogers and Dan Seals. In view of this, I was therefore surprised (and delighted) to hear of this album.

There are scant details - the band personnel remain a mystery, however I suspect that Mo West, McMeans' former Thunder cohort, has some involvement in the project.

As for the year of release that's anyone's guess, though I'd plump for early 1990's. John if you're reading this let us know...(you are dead on Richard.. John has confirmed it is from 1991.. Ed)

The Songs

On the debit side (sorry that's what happens when your better half is an accountant), there are a paltry six tracks; on the credit side, four songs are re-vamped and much improved versions of Thunder songs and secondly, some new material from McMeans, is better than none.

Things get off to a promising start with wailing guitars and chunky bass on 'Vigilante Man'. This is obviously Mc Means' one-man quest to wage war on the flotsam of society. Yep, I'm sure this would go down a treat with the local rednecks or staunch Republicans - take your pick, though maybe these two demographic groups are generally interchangeable?

However if you're a human rights activist, or an individual with more liberal views (commonly known as 'Communist' in the Deep South) then certainly lyrically it's calculated to offend.

The original version of 'Easy Street' from Thunder's debut was slightly laboured, second time around the tempo's been increased a notch, the guitar's are chunkier and the overall arrangements rocks a little harder and is much more effective as a result.

The up-tempo, slightly funky 'Late Last Night', also culled from Thunder's debut, has an infectious groove, complemented by McMean's soulful vocals and biting guitar.

The obligatory power ballad 'Baby I'm No Fool' unfortunately has to be a low point, it contains the daftest set of lyrics I've come across since Trillion's 'What Can You Do'. Here's a sample: On the subject of Howard Hughes: 'and every now and then' croons Mc Means 'he liked to shoot a little heroin'. And of Queen Elizabeth 1: 'It must have been her regal style that really drove the peasants wild'.

Hmm, I think that's enough don't you? Frankly how Howard Hughes and Queen Elizabeth 1 can be put into the context of a love song is beyond me. Maybe the lyrics were the product of a Jack Daniels fuelled 'Late Last Night' I can forgive such trite material when it's followed by the excellent bluesy AOR of 'I'm Alright'.

John Porter McMeans excels himself here with some wonderfully fluid guitar runs. This 6- track excursion is rounded off in fine-style with the epic 'Last Train'.

In Summary

Sadly, I doubt very much that we will see any more similar offerings from McMeans as Country music, not AOR, appears to be his forte these days.

I think the best melodic rock fans can hope for is a CD re-release of 'Headphones For Cows'. Rock Candy Records are you listening?

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