Stranded Alive (2020)

A long time ago, we discovered this band from Louisiana through a single album dating from 1980 that we really appreciated. The firm Southern Records unearthed this live performance recorded five years later, in 1985. Proof that South Paw remained active for at least five years. And even if this combo did not know the glory, we realize by listening to this disc that it did exactly like many stars of southern rock at that time: to move towards FM rock. And this concert is strangely reminiscent of those of southern groups in the mid-80s. A cocktail of old pieces of southern rock and new songs aiming for getting into the good graces of the radios. We have good examples of this through official public recordings (Molly Hatchet and its "Double trouble live") or bootlegs (Blackfoot, Johnny Van Zant Band). Yes, the years 1984/85 were very harmful for our dear “southern music”!

Even if South Paw remained confidential (even almost unknown, except in Louisiana), it took the same path as his elders. On the cover, we discover that the "rednecks" of 1980 had cut their hair and had invested in fashionable clothes (of that time obviously). After all, other better-known ones had done it well. However, this did not bode well. Recorded at the end of December 1984, the show therefore mixed two styles of music. Southern rock with a few songs from the first album: the burning southern rock "Raise the roof", the southern boogie "Goin 'down to Jimmy's", the muscular ballad "Searchin" and the infernal instrumental "Freight train" with its final acceleration. We can see that these musicians were as talented in the studio as on stage.

The other titles were eyeing squarely on the FM rock side ("Don’t blame me", "Hot razors in my heart", "Tough on the streets", "Cry no more" and "On the run"). But the guys from South Paw got along by fine and proved their technical mastery. Although pretty far from the basic style of the band, the new songs did not sound "unnatural", proof of the talent of the members of this formation. It must be admitted that they do a great job.

What have they become ? Impossible to know. Currently, there are a dozen groups named South Paw in the States, but none of these forgotten musicians are among its ranks. However, it seemed easy enough to find them thanks to a detail that is not invented: the bass player was called ... Gary Moore! He must have been teased by his friends. The same name but not the same fate. All of these guys had to throw in the towel and must now nostalgically remember their musician's past. In the end, the concert can be listened to (especially for classic southern songs) and we will find ourselves appreciating this "Stranded alive", a vestige of the past and a perfect reflection of its time.

Olivier Aubry


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