Once a week you'll hear me on www.jazzandbossaradio.com presenting my show, Blues is the Truth. This blog is all about the blues too, with reviews, images, videos and more. Subscribe for a regular dose of awesome!
Tomorrow night’s show is packed with new stuff, with tracks from Wily Bo Walker with Kareña K Ashton, Half Deaf Clatch, Junior Bowles, Dana Fuchs and Colosseum. There are classics too with BB King and Chuck Berry, along with great tracks from The Steady Rollin’ Revue, Jo Harman and more. It all kicks off at 9pm tomorrow on www.jazzandbossaradio.com
When Katie Bradley and Dudley Ross started planning for 2014 they intended to record an album, which is something they achieved. However, the album they intended to make as a follow up She’s Ready, isn’t what they achieved. Instead of a polished set of originals we have something more akin to the band you see on stage, a mixture of classic covers and punchy originals that will be instantly recognisable to a member of a gig audience.
With the main market for hard copy music these days, especially among fans of more niche genres like blues, being the post gig sales to audience members eager for a souvenir of a night out, that recognisability is a grand idea. If you spin the disc and get a reminder of a great night you’re more likely to become an advocate of the band and to attend future performances. So have Kate and Dud executed a marketing coup like no other, or should they have stuck to the original plan?
The music here is very much focussed around excitement. None of the covers are slow 12 bar blues grinders, so popular with most acts as a chance to get all melodramatic, this is upbeat dancing music. From the swing of Every Day I Have the Blues to the punch of Mojo Working things have a focus on the danceability, the fire and the groove. Even when they do pick a slow one, I’d Rather Go Blind, they don’t push things towards an orgy of overblown soloing. Dudley’s lead on that particular song is refreshingly subtle, polished and almost surprisingly succinct. Not many blues bands have the confidence to hold back, or to push the song to the fore as these folks do, and it makes them all the more distinct.
As far as the originals that make up half the record go, they sit very well against their better known album-mates. Songs like Levy Town display a subtlety in their writing, and in their performance that shows exactly what the originals disc could have been. Their writing is original and intelligent, but still sits perfectly next to the well known covers. It’s a difficult thing to do, but choices of imagery that are steeped into the traditions of blues along with the eschewing of overtly current subject matter in favour of the universal proves an effective ploy.
Performance wise Dudley, as already mentioned delivers a polished, subtle guitar foil for Katie’s sweet toned voice and melodic harp playing. However they aren’t the only stars of the disc, great hammond playing (especially on a stand out cover of Lowell Fulson’s Little By Little) and a solid grove from the rhythm section show the band to be just as valuable as the stars.
So did the pair make the right decision? On this evidence yes. The album they have produced highlights their talents as performers and writers, yet it provides, with a deft choice of covers, a strong dose of familiarity that centres the disc. While many would say that this is a formula that has been followed by plenty of acts that have come before, it’s repeated so often because it works so well. It’s not so often it works this well.
Tomorrow night the show has a couple of things I’m enthusiastic about to say the least. There’s a track from the new Gary Clark Jr Album, and more excitingly a brand new Hoax track that almost has me speechless. Along with that there’s some Ritchie Dave Porter, David Ferra, Mississippi Heat, Half Deaf Clatch, Ian Siegal, Joe Bonamassa, JJ Grey and much more. Tune in on www.jazzandbossaradio.com from 9pm UK time.
Monday’s show as a podcast… What could be better than reliving the joy and excitement of two hours of Blues is the Truth with the likes of Katie Bradley and Dudley Ross, Zoe Schwarz, Nick Curran, Laura Cheadle, Little Walter and much much more. Catch it on Soundcloud right here! http://www.mixcloud.com/imchugh1/usersianmchughdesktopshow-247_mixdownmp3/
Tomorrow night’s show is packed with greatness. Albert King, Albert Collins, Katie Bradley, Dave Arcari, Emanuele Fizzotti, Mud Morganfield, Melinda Colaizzi, Laura Cheadle, Mark Pontin and Colleen Patricia Catherine all packed into two hours of awesome blues. Tune in on www.jazzandbossaradio.com tomorrow from 9pm UK time.
It has been three long years since Simon Campbell’s last album. In 2011’s Thirty Six he focussed on the kind of electric blues rock that retains massive popularity among blues fans, and did it well enough to garner himself a British Blues Award nomination for male vocalist. He’s back now, but in a radically different guise with a new record entitled The Knife.
Gone, for the most part, are the loud electric guitars and modernist approach, in favour of a mainly acoustic sound that embraces a more natural, organic sound. The music is harder to define too, falling into that wide chasm commonly called roots, with influences from country, folk and world music in the mix along with the blues. This is a big change, and somewhat of a risk for a musician who has achieved success with his previous work, he could be about to alienate a huge group of people, or he could be on the edge of even greater success. Either way the bravery should be applauded.
What hasn’t changed is the quality of performance, or of the songwriting. There are some great tunes here, rich ballads that would make the likes of Johnny Cash proud, dark tales and light, covering the spectrum of love to murder. The title track and the one that follows it, Affairs of the Heart, are bona fide classics, sounding like they’ve been around forever, even if I’ve not heard them before, as if they are part of my musical DNA.
The entire disc is delivered in an understated, subtle manner that has no need for bombast or flash to attract attention. There is no showing off, no outward sense of trying hard, no in your face delivery, just a song given to the listener in a completely direct manner, no hiding. The music wrapped around the tunes is layered and atmospheric, with textural elements that are cinematic in their application. You get the feeling that a lot is being held back and it makes it all the more powerful that the meaning, and there performance isn’t coming at you like a handful of bricks.
Simon has achieved something great here, an album that stands on it’s own, packed with greatness, and that is completely unlike anything I’ve heard from him in the past. If it does drive away some of the people who wanted something like Thirty Six, it’ll be them who miss out. This is a great record.
In tonights show I play a track from the forthcoming album from past BBA nominee Simon Campbell. Over the three years since 36 simon has reinvented himself and created a record vastly different to his prior release.
It’s different and exciting, and you get your first chance to hear it tonight on Blues is the Truth, 9pm UK time on www.jazzandbossaradio.com
Tomorrows show is packed to the gills with awesome. There’s an interview with the fabulous Joanne Shaw Taylor and tracks from her latest album, some new stuff from Jo Bonamassa, a new (to the show) old track which features a regular listener, dedications to Jennifer Noble and Paul Lamb, some great soul blues, an unexpected version of a classic and much more. Intrigued? Head over to www.jazzandbossaradio.com at 9pm UK time to hear what’s up!
Last night’s edition of the show is now available as a podcast. Hit the link to enjoy two hours of brilliant blues music with tracks from Kyle Esplin, Sarah Skinner, Paul Lamb and Chad Strentz, Buddy Whittington, Robert Cray, Joanne Shaw Taylor and more!