Music, Print, Reviews May 11, 2020

Album Review: Michael Morrow & The Culprits – I’m With The Banned

by Nate Wilde

Michael Morrow & The Culprits have proved themselves to be a mainstay in the Colorado music scene with their latest effort I’m With the Banned. Their grasp on classic 1970’s rock with bluesy undertones has made them as iconic as their predecessors (in the Northern Colorado music scene, at least) and their new release exemplifies this to a T.

The record kicks off with “The Rambler,” an ode to the road, placing the listener in a drive across desolate wastelands reminiscing about better times. Moreover, it takes us directly to 1972 with vocal harmonies and feelings of despair reminiscent of The Eagles’ “Outlaw Man.” The classic rock, blues-forward guitar solo here takes the song out full-throttle, a la Lynyrd Skynyrd’s iconic “Freebird.”

The album’s first single “Cherry Blossom” is The Culprit’s take on one ever-present classic rock theme: songs about women. It comes complete with blues riffs and lyrics describing her garb: appropriately enough, bell-bottoms.

I’m With The Banned gets sleazier with “Hustler,” another straight-up dirty blues song about the fairer sex, with an undeniable KISS feel, both lyrically and instrumentally. This should be expected, as The Culprits are also known to don black and white makeup and rock KISS covers in their respected tribute act KISSm.

I’m With the Banned closes out with the most purely rock ‘n roll track of the collection, the eclectic “Wayside.” It incorporates the aforementioned KISS-like elements a la “Detroit Rock City,” pays tribute to the rock and roll era of diners, leather jackets, and poodle skirts, and even touches on 80’s stadium rock with shouts that make the listener practically smell the Aquanet in their hair.

The Culprits rhythm section: Steve Haywood (UK) on bass, Tim Elliott on drums.

With young bands like Greta Van Fleet and Dirty Honey bringing back the classic rock style of the 70’s, Michael Morrow & The Culprits can carry that torch for Northern Colorado as proudly now as they would have back in the day.