So hard work really does pay off. If ever a British band deserved a major label deal, increased exposure and the chance to fulfil its glaring potential then Massive Wagons is that band. Full Nelson is full of hope, full of optimism and full of the singalong anthems that have made a Wagons’ live show one of the feelgood gigs of the year.
But a brief word of warning. This isn’t, in fact, the full Nelson. Supplementing the new tunes are old favourites Ratio, Tokyo and the balls-to-the-wall Quo tribute Back To The Stack. Long-time fans will be more than familiar with a trio of outstanding tracks and might wonder why they’re here. Whatever the reason, all three are a welcome addition to a career-defining record that brings new converts bang up to date with Barry Mills and his merry men.
Of the original material, opener Under No Illusion is classic Wagons: a rollicking rocker that’s made for the live arena. China Plates and Billy Balloon Head might lack the instantaneous appeal of the band’s earlier material but both are the sound of Mills and co. stretching the artistic boundaries and adding breadth to an increasingly diverse catalogue. And nobody can criticise ambition.
Northern Boy is an autobiographical call to arms that will resonate with fans and fellow musos alike while Last On The List should be first on shuffle. There’s no ignoring the Wagons’ obvious appeal: their simple yet effective approach to old school rock and roll feels like a lost art gloriously restored. Full Nelson isn’t the full picture – far from it. But it offers a revealing snapshot of a band built to last.