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July

ALBUM OF THE MONTH !

JIMMY VAUGHAN More Blues Ballads and Favourites Proper Genre – Retro Blues / R&B

JIMMY VAUGHAN More Blues Ballads and Favourites Proper Genre – Retro Blues / R&B

JIMMY VAUGHAN
More Blues Ballads and Favourites
Proper
Genre – Retro Blues / R&B
Star Rating 10/10

One of our very favourite albums of 2010 was Jimmy’s ‘Blues Ballads and Favourites.’ At the time it was such a refreshing sound that (for those of us of certain vintage) took us back to the sound of the great R&B records of the late 50’s and early sixties. It was the sound of Atlantic, Chess and the rest – recorded totally live and presented to us exactly as it happened; pared down sound – simple Fender guitar through a valve amp (Fender? Boogie? Other).No frills, no excess, wonderful record. Well he’s gone and done it again. In the opinion of many here Jimmy Vaughan is the man – stripping away all the excess and overstatement of modern rock / blues guitar to present 16 tracks of pure classic R&B and Blues. The album features Lou Ann Barton, she of the classic 50’s rock ‘n roll voice who was featured strongly on the first album. On this one she is prominent with a live closing track ‘Shake a Hand. The album is just great throughout and magically it’s the sound of those old singles that we have here as Jimmy mines the vaults of R&B and Country classics. The opener is a wickedly rocking adaptation of the old Webb Pierce C&W classic ‘I Ain’t Never’, no country here its mean rhythm & blues and then we get the Bobby Charles classic ‘No Use Knocking’ a duet with Lou-Ann – great stuff. Then it slows ‘Teardrop Blues’ the Jimmy Liggins classic recorded originally on the old ‘Speciality’ label around 1954, a great version, we’re still in Country territory with Hank Williams’ ‘I Hang My Head and Cry’ –then we get the hard to find New Orleans R&B singer Annie Laurie’s classic ‘It’s Been a Long Time’, and so it goes on 16 tracks of great music – our favourite –track 15 ‘Bad Bad Whiskey’ the Amos Milburn classic (he also did the original ‘Down the Road Apiece’). What more can we say – its one great record and its gonna take some beating – Jimmy Vaughan roll on give us more, more, more!
Review Team

Artist – HOKIE JOINT Album – The Music Starts to Play Label – Cool Buzz CLBZ 32 Available from – www.hokiejoint.com Genre – eclectic / rock / blues Star rating 9/10
Artist – HOKIE JOINT Album – The Music Starts to Play Label – Cool Buzz CLBZ 32 Available from – www.hokiejoint.com Genre – eclectic / rock / blues Star rating 9/10

Artist – HOKIE JOINT

Album – The Music Starts to Play

Label – Cool Buzz CLBZ 32

Available from – www.hokiejoint.com

Genre – eclectic / rock / blues

Star rating 9/10

This is an excellent album from Essex based Hokie Joint – its eclectic and difficult to categorize yet it has a distinct identity running through it. Hokie Joint has risen to some prominence through the blues circuit but with this they are pushing way beyond blues. There are echoes, of the Stones, the Kinks, Tom Waits, Robert Johnson, Americana, some prog rock and a very strong dose of currently hip East European polka rhythm. There are elements of blues throughout, but it isn’t blues. The lyrics are extraordinary – a tumbling mix of surreal images, wacky humour, and crazy characters – magically the songs can go from light to dark in an instant, from welcome to menace.

 

The musicianship is first rate in particular Giles King on harmonica. He uses mainly diatonic harmonicas as is usual in blues but he pushes the boundaries especially in the Polka tunes. His solo on ‘Bang Bang’ the bluesiest track on the album was the high point of the whole record. The front man is the charismatic Jo Jo Burgess, his voice is distinctive with a growling edge and he is the key to a character laden and distinct sound. On drums Stephen Cutmore – he’s worth a look; a louche wasted looking soul in Keith Richards mode – but a real drummer, none of the bog stand ‘English on the front foot drumming’, he’s on the back beat throughout and adds some classy touches to Polka tunes. Joel Fisk on guitar is both very good and very refreshing – he plays parts – they fit and they compliment – and he’s not an SRV clone or a Jimi Clone – he plays superbly within the context of the music –there two short solos, one on ‘Birds in the Rafters’ is exquisite, Eastern Flavoured and minor key, the other on ‘Bang Bang’ is a killer building from a very economical pedal note intro. On bass Fergie Fulton underpins it all; he swings (on bass) and it’s tight.

 

The songs are all good, there are no fillers – ‘The Music Starts to Play’ is like a musical carousel –it whirls and swings and paints pictures of light to dark – ‘Force of Habit’ is a Stones inspired rocker recalling their pre-Satanic Majesties period. ‘This Body of Man’ is almost a master class in tension and release and the instrumental section at the end is brilliant – slide guitar over a pedal bass and a superb build up of tension lead to a hilariously enigmatic ending. ‘Aeroplane’, ‘Birds in the Rafters’. ‘Apologize’ are all good full of surreal images and twists and turns – there are two tracks that lyrically exemplify use of the ballad tradition; ‘Jackie Boy’ and ‘Remington’ – Jo Jo spins us a yarn – in each case a dark tale coloured by vivid word images. The two best tracks are ‘Watch What We Eat’ a polka-ish tale with very strange lyrics and a maddeningly catchy chorus. The highlight of the whole album for us was the closer ‘Bang Bang’ it’s a bluesy slow rocker again full of tension and excellent solos as already noted. Hallelujah! At long last we have a band to match the greats of the past – a cracking record that will reveal more layers of interest with repeated listens. If there is any justice this will take Hokie Joint a long way.

Review Team

 

Artist – BILL STEWART Album – On the Top of the World RGF records (www.rgfrecords.co.uk) Genre – Country Blues / Singer songwriter  Star rating 6.5/10
Artist – BILL STEWART Album – On the Top of the World RGF records (www.rgfrecords.co.uk) Genre – Country Blues / Singer songwriter Star rating 6.5/10

 

Artist – BILL STEWART
Album – On the Top of the World

RGF records (www.rgfrecords.co.uk)

Genre – Country Blues / Singer songwriter

Star rating 6.5/10

Bill Stewart is from Jarrow on Tyne-side, and this album reveals a keen eye for landscapes and for the tough times of the past in his beloved Northumberland. He’s plays nice Slide Guitar & Dobro. The soundscape is set early on and sticks to similar tonalities throughout. Bill’s vocals are slightly diffident on the cover songs but become more assured as the album progresses with some nice harmony parts. Bill’s voice has the twang of his home town in the sound that makes it a little more distinctive. There is no missing the influence of Mark Knopfler in the second guitar part in several places, particularly on ‘Feel like Going Home’.

There are protest songs too ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ it’s a simple tune with a good hook and chorus; you can sing along and burn your Thatcher effigies to this one. Likewise ‘Man in a Pinstripe Suit’ which is very Dire Straights sounding. It would be interesting to hear Bill Stewart playing with a small combo as the songs might communicate a little more with more sonic impact. Some of the originals could perhaps have done with a little more work in the production to strengthen their impact. ‘Forgotten Memories’ is a Stewart instrumental original and very appealing too. There are strong story telling lyrics on many of the originals, and in that sense Bill is in the ballad tradition of Northern English folk music, and Bill’s ode to his homeland ‘Northumberland’ is very much in that tradition. It’s all very moody, perhaps a bit too dour. The album needed a hint of optimism to lift it at some point. That’s important; at fourteen tracks it’s a longish album and by around track ten it would have been wise to programme a lift in mood. That said this is a promising album and Bill would do well to consider exploring the ‘English tradition’ more in the future. This is an album to listen to while watching the sun go down over the (abandoned) shipyard.
LBI review team

 

GERRY JABLONSKI & THE ELECTRIC BAND Live at Captain Toms Fat Hippy Records FH56 9JCD2 Genre – Rock / Blues Star rating 7/10
GERRY JABLONSKI & THE ELECTRIC BAND Live at Captain Toms Fat Hippy Records FH56 9JCD2 Genre – Rock / Blues Star rating 7/10

 

GERRY JABLONSKI & THE ELECTRIC BAND

Live at Captain Toms
Fat Hippy Records FH56 9JCD2
Genre – Rock / Blues

Star rating 7/10
This is a punchy blues based rock album, its unpretentious ‘I ain’t rich, I work all day, get no money, get no thanks’ sings Gerry on ‘Hard to Make a Living’ – that’s good, and at the money gigs are paying these days it’s no wonder. So it’s an album that comes from a real place. It’s down home British rock with an occasional touch of blues; that is over and against blues with a touch of rock. It’s pretty much in your face hairy chested stuff. If this is what they sound like live then on a good night, with decent crowd it’s probably going to be a cracking gig. The influences are clear, right there on the surface, so to speak, the Stones, Free and the whole range of late 60’s and 70’s sounds with a few prog-rock touches here and there. It’s fairly consistent throughout though at times the harmonica could have come more to the fore, that’s Peter Narooczyk (hope that’s right, the artwork text is a bit too clever and difficult to read) and he’s the outstanding player – let’s hear more next time please guys. The songs are OK but there is a lack of clear hooks – except on possibly the best track, the rock-ballad ‘High on You’ – good use of building tension and release, and earthy Jaggerish harmonica. ‘Boogie’ is what is says –butt-kicking boogie; ‘Koss’ is a Free inspired tribute to the man; ‘Virgil Cain’ is good, rootsy country rock tinged tale of the Old West. ‘When the Fire is Gone’ has a riff that’s right out of Blind Faith’s album and ‘Getting Better’ is the bluesiest track –mid temp shuffle (ish). All told it’s a promising album a tad overlong at 14 tracks but worth a listen and we’ll look forward to catching them live.

LBI review team

KRISSY MATTHEWS Hit the Rock www.krissymatthews.com Genre – Power trio Blues / rock Star rating 6/10
KRISSY MATTHEWS Hit the Rock www.krissymatthews.com Genre – Power trio Blues / rock Star rating 6/10

 

KRISSY MATTHEWS
Hit the Rock

www.krissymatthews.com

Genre – Power trio Blues / rock

Star rating 6/10
Krissy Matthews is just 17 years old, this is his fourth album and he obviously has a lot of nous to have got this far. He deserves a lot of credit for real determination and hard work and is obviously a very good hustler. He may, we suspect, owe something to the Norwegian connection (he’s half Norwegian and got signed at young age by a Norwegian record company), notwithstanding, he is a hard worker and that will pay dividends. That said what do we make of this album? Well its not Norwegian blues before Monty Python fans ask and unfortunately it didn’t really do it for us – he’s got a way to go yet in our view – but there’s plenty to be encouraged by. For instance a lot of thought and imagination has gone into the arrangements –they’re interesting, like in ‘Mystery Train’ with tempo changes and lots of dynamics –but the problem is it all sounds a touch too frantic and slightly crowded. The influences are clear- notably Hendrix – but the whole thing needs to relax a little – maybe a few pints of Real Ale and a couple of joints when they next record would help – but seriously (hey who said we’re joking!) we think that maybe next time – just calm it a little – two or three crotchets a minute less on the old metronome – try a less is more approach, and have a listen to recent Jimmy Vaughan –you’ll get there. One thing Krissy, please avoid drum rolls like the one that opens this record – that says ‘Indie’ not blues rock. That said, we commend Krissy for all he has achieved and look forward to the next album.

LBI review team

 

 

GILES ROBSON & THE DIRTY ACES Crooked Heart of Mine Movin’ Music MMR003 Genre – Harmonica led Blues with a tinge of rock Star rating 7.5/10
GILES ROBSON & THE DIRTY ACES Crooked Heart of Mine Movin’ Music MMR003 Genre – Harmonica led Blues with a tinge of rock Star rating 7.5/10

 

GILES ROBSON & THE DIRTY ACES
Crooked Heart of Mine

Movin’ Music MMR003

Genre – Harmonica led Blues with a tinge of rock

Star rating 7.5/10

We cringed slightly at the opening drum roll – that sort of roll says ‘Indie Rock’ (is there a theme developing here Ed?), it didn’t used to but it does these days drummer Mike, but its thankfully brief and the album moves into gear with a nice Chicago flavoured ‘The Mighty Incinerator’ where Giles’ Little Walter flavoured sound comes rapidly to the fore. Giles’s voice recalls the US vocalist harmonica player Gary Allegretto whose album was one of our very favourites of 2010. ‘Twenty Gallons of Muddy Water’ follows on; surprisingly after a pedal bass opening its harmonically virtually the same song as track one – the producer should have spotted this and spaced these two tracks. After that we begin get more harmonic variety of tempo and mood – ‘Keep on Digging’ has a country blues flavour and ‘Some Kinda King’ has a two feel and a rapid vocal line – slight echoes of Chuck Berry perhaps? Track 5 ‘Devil Led Evil’ is the best track by a large margin. It’s a Polka-ish tempo with a touch of Gypsy jazz in the guitar rhythm good melody and lyrically its interesting ‘The devil led evil down to his death’ he sings – we’d be very interested to know the thinking behind those lyrics, but whatever, it works – a real stand-out track. The album doesn’t quite scale that peak again – but the title track ‘Crooked Heart of Mine’ is good – a stripped back slow blues. The instrumental track ‘Solidor’ is an interesting minor key tune, reflective and it takes us to a different place. ‘Cooling Board’ recalls Howling Wolf and ‘Magic Tricks’ is a hot little boogie. ‘Hometown’ is another instrumental, country tinged and a homage to Robson’s homeland we surmise. The closer is ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’ – a boogie style song about…well about not being dead…we wondered what the story is behind it. This is a good album with a nice recorded sound. Giles’ Robson’s harmonica features heavily – it’s a very good sound without revealing a particularly distinctive styling. Should be an excellent live act and with Mike Hellier involved they can’t really miss, but there is a tendency to a similarity of sound throughout that is accentuated by harmonic similarities, avoid that and there may well be a killer album in the works for future.

LBI review team

 

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"We break all the rules - we don't care what they  think about how you're supposed to do things these days!"   Jimmy Vaughan podcast Listen to it here

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