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July continued

Paul Cox PAUL COX & CHARLIE FABERT
That’s What We’re Born For
Note Records NCD 1024
Genre – Soul / Blues
Star rating 8/10

This is the first fruit of a fascinating musical partnership. Paul Cox a long established vocalist on the UK blues / soul team and young French guitarist Charlie Fabert who is widely recognized as one of the very best of a young generation of French musicians. The album features some of the UK’s finest players; Roger Cotton on Keyboards who also produced, Nigel Hardy on bass, Pete Stroud on drums. Some of the work was done in France and includes Phillipe Dendromont on drums and Vartan Feoux on keyboards. There are also appearances by Alan Glen on harmonica and Val Cowell & Mandy Bell on backing vocals. We here at LBI are always amazed that Paul Cox is not at the very top of the tree in the UK and it reflects sadly on the music industry here that such talent is so undervalued. Will this album do the trick? Well it is very good of its kind – it’s almost retro soul and captures some of the sound and feel of classic Stax sound. Charlies guitar is outstanding, it lilts and weaves around the vocal lines and manages to contribute a lot without sounding at all hackneyed. The songs are pretty good, especially ‘It’s Getting Harder’ and Paul & Charlies own ‘Burning Flame,’ and the title track. As always Roger Cotton contributes a couple of titles to add to his long list of credits – the opener ‘Big Change is Gonna Come’ and ‘I Can’t Change’. It’s got a good feel throughout and is possibly the best record Paul has made. We would have preferred a slightly dirtier sound, slightly more of a live feel, but that’s just us. See Paul Cox live and he’s a real dynamo; the on-stage magic between him and Charlie is a joy to watch and listen to. This doesn’t quite capture that but it comes close. It’s a radio friendly sound and it should do Paul and Charlie a lot of good. If there is any justice then this will take Paul up a few notches. He certainly deserves and we wish him & Charlie well. We look forward to the next album very much; add a couple of real rockers to the mix and you’ll make us very happy indeed.

Review Team

MAMA ROSIN with HIPBONE SLIM & THE KNEE TREMBLERS Louisiana Sun Voodoo Rhythm Records LC 07683 Genre – Cajun meets Hooker style blues Star Rating – 7.5/10
MAMA ROSIN with HIPBONE SLIM & THE KNEE TREMBLERS Louisiana Sun Voodoo Rhythm Records LC 07683 Genre – Cajun meets Hooker style blues Star Rating – 7.5/10

MAMA ROSIN with HIPBONE SLIM & THE KNEE TREMBLERS
Louisiana Sun
Voodoo Rhythm Records LC 07683
Genre – Cajun meets Hooker style blues
Star Rating – 7.5/10
On the one hand we have Mama Rosin; the high energy Swiss Cajun trio with Xavier Bray quite the best drummer we’ve seen this last 18 months and the brothers Cyril ‘Jeter’ Yetarian on melodeon, vocals and fiddle, and Robin Girod on Guitar, vocals and banjo are a storming live act hugely rhythmic, very energetic and highly entertaining…and on the other hand, from London, we have another trio Hipbone Slim and Co – a harder edged outfit this with a strong element, on this record, of the primitive sound that John Lee Hooker got on his early Chess recordings. Elsewhere, on other recordings, their sound has elements of rockabilly, surf rock (a la Dick Dale).
The resultant record is an interesting mix of styles and an album that takes its name from the title track a re-working of the old hit by the Rivieras. Reviewers describe Mama Rosin’s style as rough and ready, but we think it takes a degree of sophistication to obtain the feel that they get. Both acts are also described as ‘garage’, another fashionable term, well they are in the Gary ‘US’ Bonds type of sound, but we say ‘retro’ because that’s what it is – the sound and feel throughout is classic 50’s / early sixties. The album has great artwork and that seals the retro vibe. This is a good listen with some excellent tracks – the country tinged ‘Trouble Ain’t Never Far Away’ where we thought we heard the ghost of Elvis, the title track a real stomper, the swamp rock opener ‘Voodoo Walking’, there are two killer boogie tracks ‘Getting’ High’ and ‘ Killing Two Birds with one Stone’ both bring Slim to the fore. The album does raise a potential problem, just where do Mama Rosin go for new material that fits the Zydeco sound without sounding repetitive? We will see, but for now they’re on the crest of a rising wave. This album isn’t quite the best of Mama Rosin, we slightly prefer them in their pure trio format, but it is, from what we’ve heard, the best of Hipbone Slim. So all said and done this album is recommended to all. Enjoy!
Review Team

STOMPING DAVE’S ELECTRIC BAND
Mystery Train

Self produced – SDEB 003 (www.stompindave.com/electricband)

Genre – Blues / R&B
Star rating 7.5/10

Mystery TrainStompin’ Dave is Dave Allen, multi-instrumentalist in many roots genres – blues, bluegrass, old-time, traditional, etc. This album represents his electric side, recorded live in trio format it’s a good collection of blues and rock ‘n roll. It also features Dave on piano, and he’s a pretty good on that as well – to use an old English phrase ‘e gives it some right wellie’, he takes no prisoners and he swings; its good stuff, especially on ‘Everyday I Have the Blues’ its on that track that Dave’s distinctive voice really shines. It’s a blues with a veiled hint of West Country accent and it works very well. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, just the guys having a real good time playing good time music. This is actually a deal better than Dave’s other electric band album ‘Original Blues’. It’s a bit of a tour de force really, he touches on several styles, there are notable T. Bone Walker influences, coloured by some jazzy runs, there is slide, City Blues, it’s all here and it swings and moves nicely. Graham Bundy on Bass and Chris Lonergan in drums anchor it well and it doesn’t sound like typical British blues. It’s consistent all the way through and a good driving (in the car) record, stand-outs are difficult to pick as it’s good throughout, but we liked ‘Everyday I Have the Blues’ very much, it’s a new look at an old tune. This Dave is a very clever chap indeed and we look forward to future releases.

Review Team

P-A-U-L
Tales from the Gravel
E&E Ee6063
Genre – Rock

Star rating 7/10

P-A-U-L
P-A-U-L

P-A-U-L is Paul Andrew Ulysses Lamb on vocals, guitar and piano; Joey Spina on bass, piano and vocals; Layla Hall on drums, percussion and vocals. Some of the publicity calls it ‘blues / rock’, but we’d call it rock, and quite heavy rock at that; we have to say that of its genre it’s a good record. The album is called ‘Tales from the Gravel’ and that suits it – it is a gravel-ish sound, growling vocals, edgy guitars and a dense earthy production. At times it starts to tend towards a metallish feel, especially on the opener ‘The Time of My Life’, a frantic tempo rocker with drums pounding right on the beat, grungy guitar full of minor pentatonic runs, echoes of Black Sabbath, a touch of Hendrix, the vocal is a growl, someone described it as ‘whisky soaked’, it’s a touch reminiscent of the vocal style of 80’s metal bands’ but more comprehendible. Track 2 ‘Forever Young and Free’ comes in with fuzzy wah-wah guitar and is almost a rock/hip-hop feel; there is screaming guitar added and a very edgy vocal; it amounts to one very heavy sound. The stand-out track is number 3 – ‘Pistol Whipped Again’ its a very heavy stop time riff, a vocal that’s almost ‘80’s metal meets blues rock,’ this track is rocking and really sparks when one of P-A-U-L’s trademarks – a girly chorus comes in – they cut right through the heaviness, the track builds to a pulsating climax with the vocals /girly chorus and guitar combining to make a big sound. The mood changes at track 5, ‘We Believe’, it’s a minor key ballad that builds to a big climax – sustained guitar from guest Joanne Shaw-Taylor, plus a gospel edged vocals from the girls. The rest of the album is back to rock – loud, edgy, very macho, it all leads to the closer – ‘Drinks are on Me’ where we have slide guitar and a huge sound. So you like loud rock and a big sound that really envelopes you then give it a try. It’s loud, it’s edgy and it rocks

Review team

WILL SCOTT

‘Keystone Crossing’

Weather-Tone Records – WTR 0033

Genre – Americana
Star rating – 8.5/10

Will Scott
Will Scott

We listened to this first time when we had a lot of distractions and tended to dismiss it- but we played it again a few days later and suddenly we were hooked in – it was track 3 ‘Just to Ferry Me Over’ that did it – it is a corker – a country tune with a strong almost gospel chorus – maddeningly catchy: the chorus is wonderful- and the song has the magical quality that you could take it and play it on almost any instrument, sing it accapela, with harmonies or without , add your own words (in the sense that in a gospel tune the leader extemporises – and the chorus is repeated); this one is right in the tradition. That one hooked us and we played it over again…and again. Then we moved back and forth through the tracks. In fact this album has three outstanding tracks – one of these is track 8- ‘You Said You’d Take Me to Spain’. It’s a tune built on a pedal style riff, almost electric Delta Blues, there is a compelling drone running throughout, and a really angry vocal – it’s a tale of spurned love, of as promise unfulfilled – its dark, its passionate, it’s edgy and it’s a great groove that is very effective. The other winner is the opener ‘White River Rising’, it’s a minor key ballad – mid-tempo with elements of Johnny Cash in the delivery – again memorable chorus – and again a song that you could take and play in various styles. The rest of the album is good but nothing quite scales the peaks of the three tracks noted. Will has the voice of a classic American troubadour and thesongs tell dark and impassioned tales of lost love; of loneliness; of being at the mercy of forces beyond our control. We did feel that the closing track ‘You are the One I Love’ was a bit of lost opportunity- there seems to be an effect on the vocal that diminishes its impact slightly, and the keyboard dominated backing on that track didn’t really work for us. The production by the strangely named ‘Scrote’ was, we felt, slightly bass heavy in places – that said the production and overall sound on ‘You Said You’d Take Me to Spain’ is brilliant conception. All told a very good record, recommended in fact; we look forward to hearing more.

Review Team

STOMPIN’ DAVE & DAVE SAUNDERS
Country Blues
Self Produced CB001
Genre – Acoustic blues ‘n roots

Star rating 8/10

Country Blues
Country Blues

Stompin ‘Dave Allen is from the West Country, am multi-instrumentalist who plays all manner of blues and roots genres and also has an electric band. He’s called ‘Stompin’ Dave because he dances, Appalachian style dancing while he plays the banjo and at other times as well. At times on live gigs he can set up a really swinging back-beat with his dancing – a better rhythm section than many drummers. This album is a really good listen and covers country blues / bluegrass / old-time fiddle and traditional tunes. Dave’s instrumental wizardry is under-girded by the solid rhythm of Dave Saunders (of the band the Producers). It’s a good mix and Dave has given us a couple of really good originals one of which, the opener ‘There’s Still Some Wonder’ is lovely, a whimsical and uplifting song about the joy of loving someone and the joy of creation – it’s a song that will fit well in many genres – features Dave on slide with Dave Saunders on rhythm. Other stand-outs include ‘The Victim’ – written by Doc Pomus and Dr. John – it’s from a B. B. King album – and this acoustic version with Dave on banjo lays down a scorching and pounding groove – superb track. There’s a great swinging version of Muddy Water’s ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ – it’s a classic country blues and the slight country twinge in Dave’s vocal is ideally suited to it. The album features one of Stompin’ Dave’s live showstoppers – the traditional fiddle tune ‘Salty Dog’. There’s a rousing almost bluegrass treatment of ‘Kansas City’ and the closer is Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Big Black Train’. Dave shows his versatility on this album – he’s very prolific in recording and this left us all looking forward to the next one.

Review Team

 

ROADHOUSE

Dark Angel

Self Produced

Genre – Rock / Blues

Star rating 8/10Star rating 8/10

Dark Angel

Dark Angel

 

This is the South London rockers’ eleventh album and it’s a good one. This release followed their successful appearance on the Bourbon Street Jazz and Blues stage at Glastonbury. Here they take the gloves off and give us a real rock feast, full of main songwriter Gary Boners’ dark parables of devils, angels, bad spirits and voodoo, death, disease and destruction- to lighten the mood there are some excellent side dishes of country and Latin as well. They’ve made several albums and good ones at that, but this is ‘the’ one; their best. Bandleader Boner certainly understands programming; the pacing is very good throughout. The album kicks in, lifts off, and moves straight into top gear; withthe ZZ Top flavoured opener ‘Too Tired to Pray’ and it’s a cracker –Boner’s deep baritone growl sets the dark mood for the whole show ‘Let me tell the difference between pleasure and pain, some people would tell you that they’re both the same’ he growls – it’s a very dark account of spiritual exhaustion. It works; this track has got it all, and its FM friendly, but not ‘too’ friendly, some on the team would have preferred a less 80’s drum sound, but it is what it is. The Roadhouse girls, Mandie G, Kelly Marie Hobbs and Suzi D are in very good form; it suggests that they worked very hard at those vocals, and its paid dividends. On guitar Danny Boy Gwylm has to be one of the most tasteful players around, he lays great slide and regular guitar on this opener and manages to be both tasteful and kicking the same time – ‘Too Tired to Pray’, look out for that one! It rocks and it rolls as well.

A neat piece of programming and the album moves into Country – ‘Rainmaker’ – ‘Rainmaker’s coming’ goes the chorus, it’s catchy, it’s a song for driving, and, being replete with Danny’s excellent country licks – is very good – Roots and Country radio stations should get this one programmed in. Track three is the album’s noire epic, the Title track ‘Dark Angel’– Boner paints a sound picture; a dark lonely road at late twilight, death and destruction all around, (so it’s definitely South London), there’s fear, anxiety and distrust with only a dark angel to look to for hope. ‘Now on this dusty highway, with the legion of the damned, my friends they all just spit on me…’ sings Boner; its dark indeed…with lashings of electric guitar and the very nice touch of some acoustic nicely placed neatly in the mix. It’s a very good track. The excellent cover by the renowned Album cover artist Vaughan Oliver was possibly inspired by this track. The cover picture is enigmatic, as if we’re in motion and travelling a tree lined highway at night, a menacing figure appears through the trees, it’s fascinating – think ‘Blair Witch’ in colour and you’ll get a clue.

The title track is followed by asong with the classic Bo Diddley beat; the voodoo tinged ‘Swamp Girl’, great live track this; then it’s back to the country for ‘Tornado’a catchy country-rock song with another dark lyric. Moving to the close we find the most commercial track on the set its ‘So Over You’, a Santana-ish /Latin flavoured tune that Kelly Marie Hobbs had a hand in writing. The penultimate track has the great title ‘Working Class Gospel Drinking Blues’; you really can’t miss with a title like that – it’s good and has a catchy chorus that recalls Pink Floyd tune. The album closes with a re-recording of a Roadhouse live favourite ‘Tellin’ Lies’ it’s a butt-kicking end to a very good set with Danny Gwilym’s guitar an outstanding feature throughout.

www.roadhousegb.com

Review Team

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