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Hey Negrita - Burn the Whole Place Down

  by John Clarkson

published: 23 / 9 / 2009

Hey Negrita - Burn the Whole Place Down
Label: Fat Fox
Format: CD


Energetic and fresh-sounding acoustic reworkings of old material on latest album from London-based country/blues outfit, Hey Negrita

Hey Negrita have put an increasing emphasis on spontaneity in recent times. Their third and last album, 2008’s ‘You Can Kick’, was recorded after the then new five-piece line-up of the London-based country/blues outfit had played just two gigs together and rehearsed three times. Their latest album, ‘Burn the Whole Place Down: A Real Live Acoustic Smoke Out’, builds on this, the band having laid down its twelve tracks without any overdubs or edits in a spur-of-the-moment five hour session. There is only one new song, the title track, ‘Burn the Whole Place Down’, a swaggering bluegrass number in which a rollicking accordion, Matthew Ord’s hacking acoustic guitar and Will “Captain Bliss” Greener’s exuberant gusts of harmonica tussle with singer-songwriter and original member Felix Bechtolsheimer’s rasping vocals for the fore. Several of the other songs on the album, including breezy tales of love-gone-sour ‘Rope’ and ‘Cold’, and redemptive closing track and calypso number ‘Fishin’, appeared on ‘You Can Kick’. Heightened here by some splendid in-between song banter, they capture the boisterous enthusiasm and energy of Hey Negrita live. Even better still, however, are the songs from the group’s first two albums, 2005’s ‘We are Catfish’ and 2006’s ‘The Buzz Above’. Largely arranged on the piano by former member Hugo Heimann, they have been completely reinvented here without a keyboard in sight. Ord’s pealing twists of bluegrass acoustic guitar particularly stand out, but the other five musicians in the studio, Bechtolsheimer, “Bliss”, upright bassist Paul Sandy, drummer Neil Findlay and latest recruit, accordionist Paul Tchanenko, all also have several moments in the spotlight. The comic ‘Nine to Five’ is given with Ord’s guitar work a jangling sharpness. ‘Can’t Walk Away’, about drug addiction and the struggle to stay clean, has, with Tchanenko’s wails of accordion, Sandy’s plucks of bass and Bechtolsheimer’s melancholic vocals, never sounded more poignant, while first single ‘Devil in My Shoes’, with thrusts of harmonica from Bliss, in contrast has a renewed vigour. With just the one new song present, Hey Negrita have taken eleven of Bechtolsheimer’s old songs on ‘Burn the Whole Place Down’ and given them a freshness and new appeal. ‘Burn the Whole Place’ more than fills the long gap until the group’s fourth studio album of new songs arrives next year.

Track Listing:-
1 Burn The Whole Place Down
2 Cold (Acoustic)
3 Here I Come (Acoustic)
4 One Mississippi
5 Nine To Five
6 Burn The Whole Place Down

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Interview (2008)
Hey Negrita - Interview
At a show in Glasgow, John Clarkson speaks to acclaimed country/blues outfit Hey Negrita about their third album 'You Can Kick', line-up changes and renewed sense of energy and creativity
Interview (2006)
Interview (2005)

live reviews

Oran Mor, Glasgow, 17/6/2008
Hey Negrita - Oran Mor, Glasgow, 17/6/2008
After a difficult year in which two of its principal members quit, John Clarkson at Oran Mor in Glasgow watches the new line-up of previously melancholic London-based blues/country rockers Hey Negrita play a blistering set fused with a new found spirit of optimism
Academy, Manchester, 28/10/2006


You Can Kick (2008)
Superb third album from London-based country/blues band Hey Negrita, which, despite its often bleak subject matter and recorded at the end of a particularly turbulent time in the group’s career, proves to be ultimately an album of fun and defiant hope
Rope (2008)
Nine To Five (2006)
Abandon Ship (2006)
The Buzz Above (2006)
Can't Walk Away (2006)
Old Britannia (2005)
Devil In My Shoes (2005)

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