Album review: THE NEW GROOVE – Quit Bitchin’





The New Groove Records [Released 10:12)

If passion and commitment equated money, The New Groove would be millionaires. ‘Quit Bitchin’ delivers 10 belting rhythm and blues related tracks that mix hot playing and meaningful lyrics with a stellar production.

Recorded at the famous Rockfield studios and produced by Grammy award-winning sound engineer Steve Orchard, The New Groove live up to their name with some rasping guitar and blistering harp led R&B.

The band is focused round vocalist and harp player Ben Curtis and Steve French on various guitars, and is powered by drummer Steve Rodford and bassist Henrik Irgens, with Carrie Haber adding bv’s to her piano and Hammondfills.

The album is a meeting of minds on both side of the mixing desk and captures a moment in time when Ben had to over come adverse health issues and French had decided to concentrate on his music.

The album is topped and tailed by the best two songs – the slide led title track which jumps out of the tracks and the whip crack rhythm of  ‘Give It Time’ which could have come from an early Dr. Feelgood album, but aims for something bigger with a layered sound and weighty hook

The white knuckle rocking would surely make stalwart pub rockers like Ducks Deluxe smile. Vocalist Ben Curtis has the same smoke tinged voice, energy and musical style as Sean Tyla and the ballad ‘It Aint Easy’ would easily have fitted a Ducks album.

‘Quit Bitchin’ uses the expansive Rockfield sound to its full potential, particularly on the big sounding ‘Shovellin’ Dirt, complete with Steve French manic solo and Ben’s wailing harp and uncompromising lyrics – ‘They got me six feet down and I’m Shovelin’ Dirt’.   Then there’s the old time rock & roll of ‘Rip It Up’ which might well have come from a George Thorogood album.

The band sound like they have waited a long time to nail their rip roaring style in a live in the studio setting, though the booming arrangements suggest with a little more thought. The catchy ‘Teen Street’, muscular ‘Injustice’, funky ‘You’re the Girl’ and harp led blues of ‘If I Have To Leave’ all carry the bands unique DNA.

In truth the songs many not be memorable enough to break through the glass ceiling that holds back many a rhythm & blues band, but Ben’s throaty vocals are coated in subtle bv’s and a big production that brings a sense of grandeur to even the most mundane of songs.

File under old school r&b played with vigor, verve and passion and only a few songs short of being essential.

*** (3/5)

Review by Pete Feenstra

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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

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