Cast your mind back to the mid 90’s and you’ll recall that Corrosion Of Conformity were the band on everyone’s lips and they were seemingly tipped for huge mainstream success! Albums such as the classic Deliverance (1994) and Wiseblood (1996) were rapturously received and appearances on mainstream TV in the UK – alongside high profile tours with the likes of Megadeth, Metallica and Pantera – only seemed to reinforce this idea. However, by the time America’s Volume Dealer was released in September 2000 the hype had faded and the album was released with barely a whimper. But does it deserve to be the runt of the Pepper Keenan era?
Whether intentional or not, the first hint of America’s Volume Dealer’s flavour could be found on the cover, which came across as a homage to Vertigo Records and its great 70’s albums. It was also apparent that the band and their usual producer John Custer had gone for a warmer, cleaner sound, with COC’s usual rawness notably missing and replaced with a slightly more radio friendly sound.
Of course, all of this means nothing without the songs to back it up and thankfully – despite the lukewarm reviews – America’s Volume Dealer was an album chock full of great songs. “Over Me” kicked things off in fine style, with Pepper Keenan’s bluesy holler carried along perfectly by maudlin riffs, while “Celebration Day” then beat you over the head repeatedly with the fattest of riffs. The one two punch of “Zippo” and “Who’s Got The Fire” were full tilt rockers, and if “Get What You Want” had been released by the Foo Fighters it would have been all over the radio! The highlight of the album though remains the beautiful, southern style ballad “Stare Too Long”, which has a great Pepper Keenan vocal supported by some fantastic slide guitar provided by Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule.
America’s Volume Dealer may have been Corrosion Of Conformity’s most personal and least political album but it still rocks like a complete bastard. So crank this beast up in memory of Reed Mullin, who sadly left us at the start of this year.