KERRANG! ISSUE 79 October 1984
THE STERLING COOKE FORCE: ‘Full Force’ (Ebony EBON 20)
THOSE OF you who stay sober enough to actually read this rag might recall that a few issues back someone was whingeing on about an Essex trio called Pali Gap being ignored by the music press. Well, around the same time I saw the said threesome and was impressed by guitarist lan Ellis, though his reliance on old Hendrix-trix didn’t inspire me to put pen to paper.
Now I stumble upon the Sterling Cooke Force whose Hendrix influences are as subtle as a W.A.S.P. love song, and again I find a skilful six-stringer tied down to copying his idol. Unfortunately, none of the countless Hendrix-type bands I’ve seen have captured my imagination.
Sterling Cooke is a talented rock guitarist who has obviously spent many hours listening to all those old JH albums and studiously learning each lick. He even appears to have modelled his warbling on Jimi’s mournful strains, and while he comes off better on that score (let’s face it, I’ve heard a walrus with toothache sing better than Hendrix), he’s never gonna top the master’s innovative talent.
It’s a shame really, cos this bloke, like Gap’s Ian Ellis, can really do the business when he wants to, and his backing boyzz – Michael Dutz (bass) and Albie Coccio (drums) – are tighter than Mick Wall’s wallet. So why doesn’t he channel all that talent into something a little more interesting?
Songwise, there’s opener ‘Hit & Run’, which is lively enough, but I’ve heard that riff more times than Lemmy has had birthdays. There’s also ‘Makin’ My Way’, with its excellent solo, ‘Ain’t Wastin’ My Time’ and ‘Don’t Need You Anymore’. All are average-to-good rock songs, but all are so Hendrixy.
The guitar (heavy on the distortion, natch) is consummately tortured, notes are bent all over the shop and hands are sent scurrying up and down the neck like epileptic tarantulas. Close your eyes and you’ll see all your fave axeman antics. Or even the puzzled spectre of Jimi…