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Jan-Feb 2012

MAGGIE ROSS BAND

Don’t Mess With Me

Privately Produced

Genre – rock / blues

Star rating 7.5/10

Maggie Ross

Maggie Ross is a wee blonde bombshell from Newcastle and this is her debut album. She presents a dozen original songs – the final one is noted as a ‘bonus track’ (we’re not sure why it’s a bonus as its damned good). This is a good album and much of it recalls a cross between Stone the Crowes and Free. The opening track is a boogie song ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ rocks nicely and kicks everything into gear. Track 2 ‘I Will Wait’ is where the Free influence really shows, a slightly overlong drum intro leads into a slowish heavy rock number, we were reminded of ‘The Hunter’ (we think, but as aging rockers we could be adrift there) a Kossoff inspired solo (best guitar sound on the album) sets it all off nicely – good stuff. Hendrix ‘Manic Depression’ seems a strong influence on the guitarist here – a riff inspired by that segues into the slow minor blues track 4 ‘Talisman’ a good song this. The album rocks nicely through to track 7 ‘I Can’t Stand It’ – this is the best track on the album (we’d have opened with it – but then wadder we know?) a good riff, solid groove and it swings.

Bearing in mind the struggle that everyone is having financing albums such as this producer Stu Emerson has come up with a good sound. He also plays keyboards on the album and it’s a significant contribution. He’s to the fore on the descending minor ballad track 8 ‘Ain’t Got the Blues No More.’ It’s a good song this with lush synth-ish keyboard sounds. We felt that the keys jarred a little against the raunchiness of the rest of the album – this would have possibly have been better with piano – it’s Ok but the keys take some of the edge out of the song. It all moves along through the minor key ballad ‘Sunshine Blues and the SRV influenced ‘Keep Control’ to the final track ‘Silver Bird’ this is very personal and quite explicit song about the deeply felt loss of a loved one on armed service abroad – it’s a very brave song and comes right from the heart. We reckon it’s the best track on an excellent album which avoids the twin traps of over production and instrumental self indulgence (long guitar solos we mean). This should secure Maggie and Co a fair few gigs this – she’s wee, she’s blonde, she’s raunchy, with a real gravely voice. What more could one you ask? Bookers please take note.

                                                                                                            Review Team

 

OLD SLEDGE

Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down

Label –

Genre – Roots & Country Blues

Star rating 9/10

Old Sledge

This is a superb collection of Old-time, roots, blues and bluegrass. The band is led by Chance McCoy master fiddler, a West Virginian fiddle champion and a singer and multi-instrumentalist as well.  He is joined by Sabra Guzmán on Guitar, Vocals & Ukulele and Ben Townsend on banjo. Jake Hopping also plays Banjo on two tracks nrs 3 & 7. The band performs some of the best of old-timey folk blues with tunes like Doc Boggs’ ‘Danville Girl’, Roscoe Holcomb’s ‘Boat’s Up the River’, the title track by Fiddlin’ John Brown and many more. This is uplifting toe-tapping stuff especially when they get right into that old groove on ‘Lost Indian’ and ‘Carroll County Blues’, but of all the tracks we loved their version of the old jazz standard ‘I’m Confessin’’ a superb gentle lilting romantic take that brings the song right back to life. All in all this is one great little record. Our one quibble is that the liner notes are impossibly difficult to read, but hey, its not that important – this is the real McCoy – the real thing – it’s the perfect antidote  to over production – too many long blues guitar solos and all the things that bedevil the modern scene. This is very highly recommended.
Review Team

 

DELTA MOON
Hellbound Train
Red Parlour RP1015
Genre – roots / blues
Star Rating – 7/10

Delta Moon

This album is roots blues with an occasional flavour of country or Americana to use the current in word. Delta Moon are from Atlanta USA and are led by Tom Gray vocalist and slide player. The publicity tells us that their dual slide guitars, (that’s Tom Gray & Mark Johnson) carry us ‘deep into the heart of the American South, where sinuous Mississippi blues meets the gritty backwoods twang of Appalachia’  Yeah, well, actually Tom was born in Washington D.C. and Mark was not born in the South, you can read the full account on www.deltamoon.com. The publicity maybe just overstates things a little? Whatever, this is pretty good but pretty much standard fare – American bar-room blues rock in the mould of ZZ Top – that is the strongest influence apparent on the record, especially on track 3 ‘Lonely’ which sounds like a ZZ Top song. There is admittedly a touch more of country on some tracks ‘Stuck in Carolina’ recalls Steve Earle and ‘Plantation Song’ is a real down home acoustic blues, but in general this is bar-room rock blues.

The record is of a good standard throughout but it lacks a really strong song or hook that would establish a degree of individuality. Perhaps, said one of the team, the production is a bit too clean? They are probably an excellent live act and this record is a good introduction – otherwise, competent as this is, there’s not much to choose between this and much else that’s around. It’s over to you dear reader.
Review Team

 

LOUISIANA RED & LITTLE VICTOR’S JUKE JOINT
Memphis Mojo
Ruf Records – RUF 1171
Genre – Blues
Star rating 7/10

lRED
Louisiana Red is 80 years old and one of  the true originals  – he’s one of those who started out playing solo electric guitar to accompany his vocals and his playing has the typical eccentricities of that style. This album is the follow up to his highly successful prize-winning 2009 album ‘Back to the Black Bayou’, that was made in collaboration with producer / protégé Little Victor and they’ve repeated the formula here. This record is exactly what it says it is – the real down-home blues, there’s no real innovation – and let’s face it why should there be – Red has more than earned the right to just bring us the blues.

All the songs on Memphis Mojo were written by Red, solo or together with Little Victor, except for one, a cover of ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ which is an outstanding performance with superb slide.

From the opener ‘Goodbye Blues’ to the closing mournful ‘Grandmother’s Death’ this album has the classic ‘tight but loose’ feel of classic blues albums of the fifties and sixties. One reviewer describes it as ‘ramshackle’ – but everyone really knows what they’re doing here and the band follows Red all the way. It’s a very personal style and Red obviously makes some of it up as he goes along, he’s obviously having a great time and it is great to hear such a spontaneous and individual performance. This is real –songs about Red’s life; hopes and fears with the guitar taking its rightful place accompanying and enhancing those songs.

Louisiana Red is going strong; reportedly still writing new material and still playing live gigs in Europe and in America, where he travels. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – this is the real thing, so maybe next time you are about to buy the latest blues guitar trio – how about you stop and get this instead.
Review Team

 

SAVOY BROWN
Voodoo Moon
Ruf Records RUF 1173
Genre – blues / rock
Star Rating 5/10

Savoy Brown
We’re sorry to have to be negative about this recording but it seems to us to epitomize much of what is not good about the current blues scene. The publicity blurb and the liner notes claim the album is about songs – but in truth there is very little in the way of songs. There are riffs with lyrics laid over, there are major or minor blues sequences, but there is hardly anything of what constitutes (in our view) a song – the constituents of song are melody and hook-lines – but unless you count endless variations on the minor pentatonic or blues scales as melody there is precious little else here. The songs seem little more than an excuse for long guitar solos – the very thing that leads so many young people to turn away from blues and label it ‘boys’ club music’. The only real song- in the sense that we define it is track nr 7 the minor key ballad ‘Round and Round’ which is pretty good. On the positive side, in fairness, the playing is very good and so is the sound but we’ve heard it all before. What the answer to all of this is we don’t know – but it would be a start if players & producers asked themselves – are we presenting real songs – have we got any hooks; are we just presenting more guitar solos posing as songs? This might not seem important to some but if we want this music to grow and develop through the coming years then some considered appraisal is needed.  An honest answer to those questions would help the blues move forward and probably help Kim Simmons to produce a really good album.
Review Team

 

LIAM TARPEY
Warm up my Bones
Privately produced
Genre – Blues / Rock
Star rating 6/10

Liam Tarpey
This is an assault on the audio senses from the very first bar – 21 years old Liam hits us with an up tempo sledgehammer of a blues rock instrumental – no distinct theme, but a dazzling display of licks, runs, double stops. And he’s telling us ‘look, I can really play’ – its over in two minutes and then Liam & Co are off again on an up-tempo blues shuffle ‘Krypto Blues’ that lifts a lick straight out of ‘Hideaway’. Liam’s not long out of Guitar College and he’s learnt well – the guitar that is. When the song starts it says ‘My woman left me this morning…’ now to the knowledge of the team here young white guys of twenty-one don’t talk that like that, they don’t say things like ‘My woman left me this morning…’ Black guys did in the past, but even they say it differently now as well. It highlights a problem with this whole genre – the lyrics or song content is way behind the guitar playing in many cases they’re just an afterthought. What they should be teaching in college is how to write blues lyrics that are representative of the way that we live and speak today – otherwise this whole genre is going to become a museum piece of interest only to guitar anoraks – the thing is we’ve got some guitar anoraks in our team and even they’re saying ‘give us some decent songs and lyrics. Its not just Liam, guitar trios are proliferating at a faster rate than were Elvis impersonators in the past, and the lyric / song problem is all pervasive.

The lyric problem is not terminal in Liam’s case – he’s a good player and his voice is distinctive – he also gets a very individual feel on the slow tracks like ‘Warm Up My Bones’ the title track – its got a primitive almost chain-gang like rhythm – even Muddy Waters would, we hazard, have liked this feel – there is resonator and slightly over-distorted electric lead on this-the distortion causes a couple of momentary instances of out of tune-ness – but it’s a real good feel, aching and pained – unfortunately it needs a better lyric – peoples’ babies’ don’t take them ‘down to the station’ these days.

This is a first album and Liam has got a lot out of his system – if he can ally his guitar technique (the influences of Hendrix, Clapton, SRV et al are all poured forth in abundance) to some more contemporary lyrical themes and be aware that we don’t need that many guitar solos on each album of guitar solos – perhaps even, God willing, realize that sometimes you can do a song without a guitar solo – he has the ability to develop into something really special.  We all hope that he does just that and we wish him well.
Review Team

 

JOINT RECORD OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2012

ROBIN BIBI
Fast Life Songs
Privately produced
Genre – acoustic blues influenced music
Star Rating 9/10

Robin Bibbi
This album has been out for several years – but its new to us and it sounds totally fresh–  its that good that we thought that we’d tell you about, it really does warrant being known and heard. Robin Bibi is a well established name, perhaps not as well-known as he deserves to be, but he has a reputation for excellence, both as a guitarist and as a singer. As an electric guitar player he can do SRV better than almost anyone – but we know that he can do a lot more than that – soul, funk, jazz, swing and the young man has a really good voice as well. On this album of mainly original acoustic tracks he doesn’t do SRV, he does Robin Bibi and he produces something that should be required listening for the young guitar led trios that are popping up– it’s the perfect balance of well written songs / immaculate guitar and vocals. It is full of variety but there is also an extra depth to much of the album – some of the songs seem very personal and there is an underlying sense of seeking rest and solace in spiritual things. The metaphor of the chalice and well as the closing track seems significant – both are biblical metaphors for the Holy Spirit – whether we surmise correctly or not this ensures a gently optimistic tone to the album.

The opening track is a Bibi live staple; it’s his own, dare we say it, Bo Diddley influenced version of the Gospel song ‘Down in the Valley to Pray’. We also detected a touch of Diddley in track 2 ‘Annie Brown’. The following ‘Love Don’t Mean a Thing’ is an exemplary piece of acoustic blues. ‘Never Fade Away’ track 4, is an album highlight – a Jazz tinged shuffle type groove with a distinctive bass riff – a lovely soulful vocal – ‘the blues is always there – everywhere you go’ he tells us.

Robin has obviously listened to it all – it shows on track 5 where we hear touches of classic country and rockabilly guitar styles and the song, ‘Down to the Harbor,’ is a corker. The instrumental ‘Willows Way’ is exquisite – an elegiac Martin Simpson flavoured instrumental melody – a beautiful track and surely ripe for a film soundtrack somewhere. That’s followed by a Skip James style guitar intro for a slide led blues – ‘I had a good friend, steady rolling guy’ nice line that – but this guy went wrong got involved with a lass and it turned out he had drink from the Devil’s cup – oh dear…

Track 8 ‘Woman I’m Under Your Spell’ has a superb vocal and some of the finest guitar on the album – it’s a moody minor key song full of lightning fast guitar runs. It’s followed by a very nice version of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Sugar Mama’ which leads in turn to the outstanding song ‘Babies Eyes’. This is a heart rending tale of family break-up and is vividly performed so that we suspect the song is about personal experience – and it centers strongly on the innocents in such a break-up as he writes of the ‘tears in our babies’ eyes’. The song is modeled on a ‘Parisian Walkways’ type structure but this is no Gary Moore copy, its original, and underlying the lyric is a subtle intimation of the strength and faith required to come through such a break-up; superb and very, very authentic,

We can’t surmise for certain, though we suspect, that the song ‘Big Trouble’ may have been written in the aftermath of what is described in ‘Babies’ Eyes’, it’s a much simpler lyric and someone has done just that, got in big trouble, and in the song there doesn’t seem to be too much the writer can do about it.

Throughout the album Robin is accompanied by Martin York on bass and on drum loops while Susan York adds accordion on one track. However, the closing track is another solo instrumental; Bibi’s own tune ‘Chalice Well’ – it is a gentle, reflective and quietly uplifting end to a really good piece of work. Robin Bibi – please give us some more – but on the meantime let the people hear this.
Review Team

 

APPALACHIA
Live! CD & DVD
Privately produced
Genre – American roots music
Star rating 6/10


This is a difficult album to review. The reason is that here we have four British guys playing a whole selection of Appalachian and Americana music, they obviously love the music. But we also receive a regular supply of the real thing – American music by such as Old Sledge and others. The standard of playing on the American releases is uniformly very high indeed and the British product, except in exceptional circumstance will almost inevitably suffer by comparison.

The CD is from a live show at Withywood Centre in Bristol and the DVD, which sounds as if it’s the same show, it is the same set was apparently recorded at Glastonbury. The line-up is James Slater – guitar and harmonica, Richard Burley – guitar and mandolin, Danny Ward – guitar and banjo and Doug Hamilton on upright bass, these players do enjoy playing this material, and that is a part of the point of playing it. Whether or not they are one and the same both start with the traditional ‘Deep Hollow’; it’s a slightly hesitant start and the vocal seems to betray nervousness.

The music draws on a range of sources from old time and country blues to ragtime, and there is a bluegrass flavour to much of it. There are bluegrass standards such as ‘Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms’ and Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down’, country blues classics such as and ‘Deep River Blues’, traditional tunes like Make ‘Me a Pallet on Your Floor’ rock classics such as Steve Miller’s The Joker’ and Mickey Newbury’s ‘Baby Why You Been Gone So Long?’, the playing is generally good and the harmonies, particularly in the acapella sections are excellent. Apart from ‘The Joker’ which really does not work in this arrangement the songs all work well enough.

Instrumentally, if you’re going to this much trouble it would really have benefited from having a fiddle in the line-up – it’s a bit guitar heavy – next album maybe?

Unfortunately we felt that overall there was something missing, a tiny spark that would have brought the whole thing to life – there is a slight air of apology, of playing the music as if it’s an academic exercise – a touch to much reverence – maybe that was self consciousness because it was being recorded, but these guys didn’t put enough of themselves into the music? Anyway, as a result we have a well produced record that is pretty good but palls in comparison to the US product. What can be done about that? Well a few jars before going on maybe? More importantly – this is traditional music so you can add your bit so-to-speak, they need to put a bit more of themselves into the music and a bit less of ‘playing American music’ – its American when Americans play it – these guys are Brits so lets hear a bit more ‘Brit’ in the music.
Review Team

 

ELEPHANT SHELF
In Trouble Again
Shelf Life 003
Genre – swing blues & rock
Star rating 8/10

album-front
This is an interesting album; it was passed to us by London promoter Pete Feenstra who couldn’t find the time to review it ‘It’s interesting’ he told us. It certainly is and it does seem a shame that Mr. Feenstra apparently didn’t give it a proper listen – he would have heard a selection of very strong Blues & Rhythm & Blues based songs all with catchy hooks. Influences like the Rolling Stones, Joe Meek, Reggae and Jazz abound. This collection of very good songs would represent excellent value for anyone looking for something to cover. It’s a quirky presentation with very original artwork which is full of humour. The band seems to be very good humored. But they’d need to be with a name like ‘Elephant Shelf’

The band is led by Vicky Martin on vocals and guitar and features extensive contributions from Diana Stone on piano & violin and vocals. The rhythm section of Rob Charles on bass and Terry McInerny on drums is excellent and can certainly swing although the drums were a tiny bit erratic on the title track. Rosie Swan’s backing vocals add an exciting edge. Dave Shannon guests on harmonica

Diana Stone is described in the sleeve notes as ‘the mad pianist’, obviously a reference to the title track ‘In Trouble Again’, which is literally rock ‘n roll with mad piano- the song is classic rock ‘n roll tune with a great hook and biting slide guitar – they don’t write them like this anymore. There are certain stand-out tracks; in particular ‘Fussing & Fighting’ which is in Rolling Stones’ ‘Tumbling Dice’ style. ‘When You Left Me’ is a blues ballad based loosely on the Charlie Parker chord changes- it has a great vocal from Rosie Swan. ‘High Heel Walker’ is also very original, it has a real jazz feel with great drums and a catchy chorus – jazz blues based with melody and originality- we don’t too much like this either these days –.

Vicky Martin and Diana Stone are somewhat unusual in the blues world both being transgender types – according to the sleeve notes they’ve been doing it for years – and ‘Undubwise’ is an excellent song written by the pair – it tells some the story –a reggae type groove and once again a superb hook. There’s a touch of folk rock with Diana Stone’s song ‘Just another Someone’ this has an extended fiddle solo and like every song on the album a good hook line. ‘Snakebite’ is a ‘Hoochie Coochie’ type groove with raw edged slide guitar – a dynamic song that tells an amusing tale.

Throughout the album there are interesting contributions from guest Dave Shannon on harmonica. The record is self produced and has quite a raw sound – we were reminded of the Rolling Stones first album and certain ‘garage rock’ sounds, for early British Blues fans there is a hint of the John Dummer Band and some of our team said ‘sounds a bit like the Doors’ – well listeners will have to make up their own minds – but we’re going to finish by recommending two gems that lose the album – ‘All I Do is Cry’ is a minor miracle of production – it’s a 60’s style pop ballad with a big sound that definitely brings Joe Meek to mind – and it closes with a stunning gypsy style violin solo that builds to a powerful crescendo – that brings up the closing song ‘Willow Tree’ and by common consent this is the album’s hidden gem:- it’s a beautiful country ballad which sounds as if it was recorded on a Southern US back porch – its full of interweaving fiddle and harmonica and is topped off by some Gospel inspired backing vocals from Rosie Swan – great song and finish – to a sweet little rock and roll gem.
Review Team

 

 

 

JOINT RECORD OF THE MONTH JANUARY 2012

PAUL LIDDELL
Milestones and Motorways
Private Production
Genre – Singer songwriter / roots based music
Star rating – 9/10


This is a gem of a record. Paul Liddell is a working singer / songwriter musician   based in the North East of England. This is his second album – it’s a proudly home-made and independent release and it is excellent A look at his website reveals that he is an accomplished and hard-working performer; both solo and with his band.

We listened to this album alongside a large number that we received in various genres and it stood right out. It’s slightly retro in that there are echoes of classic prog rock and folk rock – think ‘Yes’, ‘John Martin’ ‘Fairport Convention’ that sort of sound. The album opens with a Martin Simpson style arpeggio on guitar – and then an atmospheric song against the shallowness of modern life – it builds to a good with percussion becoming prominent as the song progresses – a great opener. Then we’re into the slow tempo lilt of ‘Game Show Host’ – we were reminded of the Fairports on this song – another song about the illusion of reality (we think, but that might be an illusion) – very atmospheric.

 

Among our team the term ‘singer-songwriter’ usually brings a collective yawn. Yet this album avoids all of the pitfalls that performers in that genre usually fall into. First Paul Liddell has an interesting voice, second he is an accomplished player, third the songs have good hook lines, fourth he’s not navel gazing – his songs are outward and relevant – he’s telling stories that we need to hear and he tells them in a way that draws you in, and the production is just right – no over production here – everything is in its place, excellent.

 

The title track ‘Milestones and Motorways’ is a corker of a track he achieves an interesting fusion – it sounds like Prog Rock from the 70’s but then we hear echoes of U2, Radiohead and modern constructs. Again there is a great hook-line.

We’ll leave the listener to enjoy the rest of the album – its all good, and interesting – it never gets boring and Paul has done an excellent production job. This is a refreshing and highly recommended album and is a worthy record of the month.
Review Team

 

THE MIGHTY BOSS CATS
The Ticket of Life

Self produced
Genre – roots / blues based
Star Rating 7/10

 

The Mighty Boss Cats hail from Essex and are led by Richard Townend he plays guitar and sings and writes most of the songs, Terry Hiscock also plays guitar and sings. The line-up is completed by Geoff Conway on bass, and Fred Fluff on percussion. This is their third album within a year, yes Richard is prolific. He has an interesting background having played for such as  the playwright Alan Ayckbourn, crooner Tony Christie, and even Ronnie Corbett. What he actually played for them the website doesn’t tell us. If you Google for Townend you can find him playing an eclectic variety of music – this includes solo performance of jazz standards such as Jerome Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’, he doesn’t play them in jazz style but in an interesting instrumental style of his own concentrating primarily on the melodies. That eclectic background informs this interesting album. It draws on several roots based influences and his laid back vocal style recalls Chris Rea, John Martyn and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler. It’ the Chris Rea influence that shines through most strongly. Guitar wise al the influences are there and there is also some tasty ragtime picking as well. It’s a mellow sound and the songs are well constructed and melodic with an underlying funkiness. We wouldn’t say there is a killer song here, but it is well worth a listen. The impression is that Townend has been waiting a while to have his say. The song ‘Lost on the Way’ is a poignant love song which recalled to us Runrig, and Dougie MacLean type sounds from around the mid-late 90’s. Our favourite would have been the closer ‘Seven Long Year’ a minor (ish) key blues starts with some resonator that harks on Jimmy Page’s intro to ‘In My Time of Dying’ then its into a really nice traditional (See that My Grave is Kept Clean) blues – its moving nicely, then the drums come in…and for us that rather killed the song it didn’t need drums. Shame about that but, nonetheless, a good album and we look forward to the songs to come from Mr. Townend.

Review Team

 

RICHARD TOWNEND
78 RPM
Self production
Genre – acoustic roots based music
Star rating 7/10

Richard Townend
Richard Townend is the leader of Essex based band The Mighty Boss Cats, they’ve produced a steady trickle of albums recently. On this one Richard steps outside the band to do some solo stuff. In truth it’s not that different to the band stuff because the mellow acoustic ambience from the band albums is retained here; it’s a tad mellower and stripped right back. At times on this his vocal recalls the slurred sound of John Martyn and also the close-in breathy sound of Chris Rea. A nice batch of songs and we liked the vintage American ballad style of ‘What’s Got Into You’. We also liked track 7 ‘Gonna be Walking’ a nice lilting song that (maybe) pays homage to Dylan’s ‘Walking Down the Line’. All in all this is a nice album to chill out to. Finally, we loved the artwork – nice cover pic; ‘where’d you get that hat son?’ and a label design that made us go all sentimental for the old style record labels.

Review Team

 

MARIA MULDAUR
Steady Love
Sony SPDC 1346

Genre – New Orleans style funky blues
Star Rating – 8/10

Maria Muldur

Yes it’s the ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ Lady Maria Muldaur. She may seem to have remained a well kept secret since that hit but for those who know she has been producing a steady stream of excellent albums covering every facets of  R&B, funk, blues, soul, Gospel, traditional, roots – acoustic and electric music, so just about everything then. She still looks ravishing as well (either that or someone is damn good at Photoshop) the voice is still excellent condition and she keeps right on rolling. She’s rolled out an interesting collection here – there’s a song from the late great Bobby Charles ‘Why Are People Like That’, there’s the really funky opener ‘I’ll Be Glad’ by Elvin Bishop, there are two quirky songs from the rootsy American singer-songwriter Greg Brown (he’s worth checking out people), Eric Bibb’s well known ‘Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down’; there is one of the great Percy Mayfield’s lesser know gems a slow jazz tinged blues ‘’Please Send Someone to Love’ –we’ve got the original version here in the office and she does a good version. We enjoyed the closing track ‘I Am Not Alone’ best of all; it’s credited to Rick Vito who plays slide guitar on the track; its actually the traditional tune ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ with a new lyric, and an atmospheric slowish groove.

 

Maria Muldaur produced the album and is accompanied by some of the cream of Crescent City musicians, it’s the backing band of your dreams. What you get here, in summary, is around an hour of the best of all the styles that Maria excels in with a strong bias towards a larger combo R&B sound. It’s another excellent record in a long stream of excellent records from Maria Muldaur and is highly enjoyable.
Review Team

 

 

MESCHIYA LAKE & the LITTLE BIG HORNS

Luck Devil

Private Production

Genre – Ultra-retro blues / jazz

Star Rating 8.5/10

Meescha

Meschiya (pronounced MEESHA) hails from New Orleans; her band is from the same place. They have certainly made a mark in their home town; she was named Female Performer of the Year in the 2011 Big Easy awards. This album was self produced and self financed and is the first fruit of her work with the band that formed in 2009.

The music is about as retro as it’s possible to be, and apart from the sound quality it could come from the 1930’s. Meschiya and the band obviously have a tremendous passion for this music that includes songs by Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and a song from 1911 ‘The Curse of an Aching Heart’ – there are a couple of originals – a Spanish flavoured ‘Slowburn’ and a torch song ‘Lucky Devil’. The musicianship is immaculate and faithful to original styles and arrangement structures. If you put this album alongside C. W. Stoneking and you’ll get the flavour of most of the old time blues and early jazz styles from 1920 or so to 1940 (or so). It is all excellently done and there are several hot moments like the solos on the closing track ‘Joseph! Joseph!’ It’s all topped off nicely with Meschiya’s smoky vocals and it is obvious she has studied the great originals very closely.

With the current rage for all things retro, burlesque they can’t really go wrong, add to that the band is at the forefront of the current US Lindy-hop revival and their success is pretty much assured.

Looking at the record entirely on its own merit we tended to ask ‘Why so retro?’ ‘Why not some innovation’- we tend to ask the question because we’ve heard most of the originals –but when you get even a glimpse on video of the live act it all makes sense. These guys are the real thing in that they perform acoustically on the streets of New Orleans and there’s some video shown below to give you the flavour. They are a killer act – the album is good but live is the thing – and they are keeping that music alive – loving it – living it and playing it. Throughout the record the brass and cymbal swings and drives; the tuba bubbles and burbles, and guitar/banjo ride along – it’s on fire and the vocal fans the flames. Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns are authentic – so enjoy a step back in time, but you won’t be able to keep those toes from tapping. See them live, get the record.

Review Team

 

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