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Stephen Dale Petit - Cracking the Code

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 14 / 10 / 2013

Stephen Dale Petit - Cracking the Code
Label: 333 Records
Format: CD


Uncompromising fourth album from Californian blues guitarist Stephen Dale Petit, which includes guest appearances from Dr John, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber

Stephen Dale Petit’s fourth album ‘Cracking the Code’ is worth buying by virtue of its guest stars alone. Dr John, Mick Taylor and Chris Barber (among others) join forces with the Californian “new-blues” man on a record which is rightly described as “incendiary.” The album opens, or, rather, explodes into life, with the superb blues-strut ‘Holla’. The opening guitar spits and crackles over a thumping rhythm section before being joined and superbly accentuated by Petit’s snarling vocal. Musically, it’s part Stones, part White Stripes, part Rory Gallagher, and Petit’s vocal delivery is part angry-Lennon, part John Lydon. It’s an uncompromising opening to an uncompromising album by an uncompromising artist, and I’m okay with that. Third track ‘Get You Off’ features the first of Dr John’s cameos, this time on piano, and a suitably Dr John intro. Mac’s piano work is, as one would expect, sterling, but who would have thought that his playing would be so well-complemented by Hubert Sumlin’s electrifying guitar? The sound the pair achieve, mixed with Petit and his own more-than-capable band is simply breathtaking. The track that really caught my attention, though, was album closer ‘Hubert’s Blues’. Any song featuring Petit, Dr John, Mick Taylor, Chris Barber on trombone, Jack Greenwood on drums and backing vocals by Angela Brooks must be a classic, right? I’m happy to say that it does not disappoint. Starting off as a pared down delta blues style number, with Barber’s trombone playing what would have been a traditional harmonica line, Taylor’s guitar fairly blisters and Mac’s Hammond serves to hold the whole piece together perfectly. Despite being conceived as an end-piece, the sheer level of ability on the three-minute track is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Petit’s journey up till now has not been the easiest, but his gift for writing excellent material and attracting stellar collaborators has not diminished. This is by far his most accomplished record to date, simply crackling with energy and bursting with imagination. I absolutely must see Petit on tour – if his stage show has half the vigour of this record, then it will be a spectacle to behold. ‘Cracking the Code ‘is a sleazy, bluesy masterpiece.

Track Listing:-
1 Holla
2 Wonder
3 Get You Off
4 Hard To Love You
5 Approximately Perfect Heartbrea
6 Muzzle
7 Riot City
8 Shotgun Venus
9 Slideway
10 My Friend Bob
11 Hubert's Blues

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