Big Guitar Records [Release date 03.06.13]
No more heroes any more? Not quite. Hendrix, SRV, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore may all have departed but as Larry’s millennium album title suggests, he’s very much a ‘Man On A Mission.’
He’s paid his dues, released 6 albums and toured incessantly for longer than he cares to remember. And he’s inadvertently embedded his mission statement on his website, when he tells us that he found his epiphany in Rory Gallagher: ‘So loud, so gloriously on the edge of total mayhem, yet in control’.
And it’s that meeting of in-the-moment intensity and fiery fretboard dexterity that gives Larry his edge, and makes this album a fair synopsis of his gut busting style. The main difference between now and the Larrycaster of old, is simply better material as evidenced by this live double album.
His full tone and vibrato confidently ring into the night air and he’s boosted by the best band he’s ever had, anchored by drummer Simon Baker and bassist Derek White and given extra colour by the piano and organ of Ian Salisbury.
Larry feeds off an audience as evidenced by the opening riff drenched ‘Still Ain’t Done With The Blues’ and the extended ‘Messing With The Kid’. You can just imagine him at the lip of the stage, shaking his mane of hair, chin jutting forwards, guitar neck pointed skywards, almost lost in his own mayhem, but always just in control!
In the absent of his own heroes he quickly fills the gap with two Rory covers and a brace of self penned blues ballads ‘The Girl That Got Away’ and ‘Cruel World’ which both owe a lot to Gary Moore. Both songs benefit from long linear notes and a sumptuous tone colour, while the memorable coda to ‘Cruel World’ marks it out as one of Larry’s very best rock blues ballads.
He’s upped his game, delivered the songs and found the sort of connection with his audience worthy of his work rate. Sure Hendrix came from another planet, Stevie combined brilliant playing with showmanship, Rory’s played with stunning intensity and Gary delivered breathtaking speed and technical ability, but from the opening exclamatory ‘yeah’, this could only be a Larry show. ‘Live And Outlawed’ provides those stellar moments when Larry matches his intrinsic sense of humour with the kind of white hot riffing that leads his congregation to punch the air.
There are Buddy Guy moments where he launches into a solo without a safety net, as befits an exciting guitar player whose incendiary licks transform a tub thumping ‘Missy Mango’ from a solid rocker into a song of ripping intensity.
He’s at his best on the stop-time rockers like ‘Gamblers Hill’ and ‘Mad Dog’, on which he encourages the crowd to join in his own personal mayhem. He sings: “I ain’t from Mississippi, but I’m a blues man, just as blue as it gets” with all the conviction and self belief that his own playing demands. And he segues into his own rock-blues heaven with Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’, the Blues Breakers version of Memphis Slim’s ‘Steppin Out’ and some snappy riffing on Rory’s ‘Shadow Play’.
He dips back into ‘Outlaw Blues’ for the heartfelt ‘Calling All the Angels’ in a rare moment of cool restraint with some clean picked notes. And he finally lets rip on ‘Backstabber Blues’, with some fluid note flurries before he whips the crowd into a final frenzy.
Larry plays the blues with all the passion, intensity and conviction of his heroes. He may not be the very last man standing but he’s a Brit rock blues-rocker who proudly carries the rock-blues baton with all the pride and panache of an Olympic athlete. **** (4/5)
Review by Pete Feenstra
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