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Blues Band - Blues Band

  by Lisa Torem

published: 24 / 7 / 2012



Blues Band - Blues Band

intro

Lisa Torem looks back on the early career of the Blues Band, whose first three albums, 'The Official Blues Band Bootleg Album', 'Ready' and 'Itchy Feet'have just been re-released


Blues Band’s founding members, Paul Jones (lead singer and blues harpist), and Tom McGuinness (guitar and vocals), both performed with organist Manfred Mann in the 1960s, after which they went their separate ways. McGuinness went on to form a new band, McGuinness Flint, which split up in 1971, while Jones pursued an acting career. The two, as fate would have it, reunited in the late 1970s, after Jones spoke to the manager of the Hope and Anchor pub in London, who encouraged his idea to form a blues band. They made plans to recruit additional players and drummer, Hughie Flint, the former percussionist with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Dave Kelly (slide and vocals) and bassist Gary Fletcher, became those band mates. The Blues Band still tours now with drummer Rob Townsend, who replaced Hughie Flint in the 1980s. Last year they also recorded a new studio album 'Few Short Lines'. But currently they are serving up three albums that deserve considerable mention for creative arrangements of classics and a fistful of spunky originals. Though each album is loaded with powerful solos, enthusiastic backing vocals’, uplifting lyrics and imagination, I think 'Ready' is the one which moves along at the best clip. 'The Official Blues Band Bootleg Album' (1980) Why wait for a record deal? That question was the driving force behind Blues Band’s decision to release this album in 1980. And in keeping with the tradition of the genre, they started right off with a classic, ‘Talk To Me Baby’ by Elmore James, twelve-bar bliss with screaming harp and tons of angst. ‘Flatfoot Sam (Oscar Wills) is about a guy who never gets it quite right – “you always in a jam.” It’s a simple track with a simple story except for the rockabilly guitar solo that is exceptional. Another classic, T Bone Walker’s ‘Two Bones and a Pick’ follows, which was recorded live at the Hope and Anchor in 1979, and in which extreme energy bolsters the instrumentals. ‘Someday Baby’, a Sleepy John Estes cover, has one of the most exquisite bass lines in the entire blues genre. ‘Boom Boom’ (Out Go The Lights), also live, could have come streaming out of the bygone juke joints. ‘Come On In’ is a Southern rock wannabe, but why not? Son House wrote ‘Death Letter’ and this version is worth it for the blessing of the acoustic intro. alone, which is a very true interpretation of the form. ‘Going Home’ is Kelly’s turn to rock out. Two more trads follow: Willie Mabon’s ‘I Don’t Know’, which is also live, and Arthur ‘Blind’ Blake’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’, the original party rock. Two bonus tracks complete the disc: ‘The Blues Band’ and the wonderful ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ by Willie Dixon, recorded live – could there be any better choice? 'Ready' (1980) Now officially signed signed to the Arista label, the Blues Band released the versatile tour de force 'Ready', another great mix of originals and much loved covers, first made famous by artists that the band members admired. ‘Twenty Nine Ways,’ a fabulous Willie Dixon cover, really spiked Jones’ interest after he heard James Cotton’s blues harp contribution to the song – Cotton soloed on Muddy Waters ‘Got My Mojo Workin.’ ‘Find Yourself Another Fool’ by McGuinness and Lou Stonebridge is loaded with vitality. ‘Noah Lewis Blues’, by Jones, is loaded with intensity, too. “Walked all night out in the freezing snow” begins the narrative with more moving images to follow. An all-around funky spirit and riveting slide solo also play a huge part. ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’ begins mournfully, then revs up considerably. It’s a song that the band members appreciated – they were big fans of Ray Charles. It’s got a definitive punch with great support from simmering harp. It also features the best vocals on the album and is polished to sheen with a piano-infused outro by the fabulous Geraint Watkins, a revered keyboard master and solo artist/songwriter. ‘Maggie’s Farm’ another sizzler, is shaded by more slide and sandpaper vocals and there’s a dynamic tug of war between harp and voice. ‘Lonely Avenue’ – “I feel so sad and blue, y’know,” - is a soulful tune that chugs along at a delightful pace. ‘I’m Ready’ is embellished with a lively male chorus, and this track swings with marvellous images: “shooting tombstone bullets…” ‘Hey Hey Little Girl’ is a Zydeco gem, short enough to sustain interested with deluxe harp intermezzo and super fun rhythmic lyrics, another great original by Tom McGuinness and Lou Stonebridge, sung by Kelly, with Rockin’ Dopsie on accordion and Chester Zeno on washboard. ‘Can’t Hold On Much Longer’ by Paul Jones, was written as a tribute to Sam Cooke, and it’s a dreamy one at that. ‘SUS Blues’ (Dave Kelly) features a major slide moment. ‘The Cat’, not to be confused with the version by the late Jimmy Smith, boasts tremendous interaction between slide and harp. Kelly sings his heart out, while Ian Stewart joins in with blistering keys. “I don’t now who to kill – him, her or the cat,” Kelly admits, in this song about betrayal. There are five bonus tracks that follow that keep the energy exciting, too, and of those selections, two are live: ‘That’s All Right’ and ‘Nadine,’ which gives you a real sense of the band’s unbeatable gravitas. 'Itchy Feet' (1981) 'Itchy Feet' was Blues Band’s third album and was first released in 1981. It is an ambitious album with twelve main tracks, bonus tracks and out-takes, on which traditional blues and originals share space and energy. ‘Talkin’ Woman Blues’ was written by Lowell Fulson and was first released in 1981. It is a riveting call and response and a great warm up for the fierce guitar work and powerful vocals of ‘Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong’ by Fletcher and Jones. The quick-paced ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio’ is the old-fashioned, toe-tapping authentic stuff peppered with blues harp and lightning quick glissandos. Think Johnny Rivers meets Jerry Lee. ‘Itchy Feet’ is a slow blues.”Put some gas in my gas tank,” goes the natural lyric, against a crawling bass and super slide show. ‘So Lonely’ is a lyrical lament, a co-write by Fletcher, pitted against a shuffle rhythm. “I’m wearing my walking shoes, but that was last night’s news…” ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ is a slide extravaganza with explosive vocals that match the bare boned structure, a classic piece by McKinley/Morganfield. Another classic by Willie Dixon, ‘Got To Love You Baby’ is done true to form, though certainly not a copycat. The gorgeous ballad, by Dave Kelly, ‘Nothin’ But The Blues’ contrasts the brassy Paul Jones epic ‘Let Your Bucket Down’, an exciting tune that builds courtesy of savoury blues harp and slide. The bonus tracks include ‘Tobacco Road’ (John D, Loudermilk), the riveting ‘Doing Alright’, by Jones; two classics by Junior Parker and Chester Burnett, ‘These Kind of Blues,’ and ‘Smokestack Lightning’; Fletcher’s wry and live ‘Green Stuff’ – songs, which are all unique either by virtue of the interplay between instruments or the ferocious vocals and clever lyrics.



Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBluesBand
http://www.thebluesband.net/


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Blues Band - Blues Band


Blues Band - Blues Band



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profiles


Blues Band (2013)
Blues Band - Blues Band
Lisa Torem examines recent reissues from the Blues Band of their 1982 fourth studio album, 'Brand Loyalty', and 1983 live record, ‘Bye Bye Blues’


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Live at Rockpalast (2013)
Fabulous live album from the Blues Band recorded in 1980 the year after they formed at the Rockpalast in Germany, which, while it comes accompanied by a poor quality DVD of the show, nevertheless is totally compelling
Few Short Lines (2011)


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