In the early 2000s, Seven Nations were the face of the Dewars whiskey ads in magazines. Always game to check out something new, I dug up two or three of their songs on pre-Metallica Napster and realized they’re actually pretty damn good. The whiskey is not really all that, but the music certainly was.
It’s the opener from their 2000 release, which repackaged a handful of songs from earlier independent albums, but re-recorded with the newer (and theoretically more stable) lineup of the band. I got a copy of this CD for Christmas and we’ve mixed the songs into our playlists for years. It is both unmistakably Celtic-influenced, and unmistakably rocking. We’ve seen the band live several times over the last 15 years, including at an Irish pub with maybe 30 other people in the building. Didn’t matter the size of the crowd, they played their asses off.
What’s interesting about those whiskey ads is that Dewars is based in Pitlochry, Scotland, and Seven Nations are based in Orlando, Florida.
I’ve noted in a couple of places how I enjoy intricately layered production and songs that you have to listen to multiple times to really appreciate all of the parts as they appear. This one definitely fits that mold.
This was the first mellow song in the track order of their debut album. After four straight balls out rockers (Once, Evenflow, Alive, Why Go) they slowed down and gave us a softer side. Given that this was the era of the power ballad, there was an immediate assumption that this was some sort of grand bombastic love song as reinterpreted by Pearl Jam, but if you give it a closer listen you realize it’s nothing of the sort.
As the song builds along, you get different layers added throughout the song, from the backing vocals, to Rick Parashar’s repeated piano riff, to different guitar textures. By the end of the song, it’s almost a different composition than where you started, but it’s a great ride.
Spencer Davis died today. This song was a generation before my time, but still all over the airwaves years later. No one’s really sure how this one didn’t end up on the Iron Eagle soundtrack, given its prominence in the movie, but it’s not like we needed the soundtrack to find / like / enjoy the song.
He was responsible for a lot of great 60s-era classics, and cynics will note that he gave Steve Linwood the platform he needed to springboard to stardom, and little else. But that significantly undersells how great Spencer was at songwriting. So chill out with this all-time classic and thank the maker that men such as Spencer graced the Earth, rather than mourn the fact that he’s gone.