Album review: BLUES ‘N’ TROUBLE – Try Anything Twice

Self Release [Release date 17.06.13]

Sometime between the mid 80’s and mid 90’s Scotland’s Blues ‘N’ Trouble were real contenders on the European blues scene and even made it over to the States.

Essentially a great live band B‘N’T’s unofficial mission statement was something along the lines of: ‘If we’re not in your town, it’s probably because we just left it’. On top of that they toured with BB King, recorded with Robert Cray and Ian Stewart on 1986’s ‘No Minor Keys’ and later cut the Grammy nominated ‘Lazy Lester Rides Again’.

But that was then and this is now, and only Tim Elliott the harp playing vocalist remains from a band that was always smart enough to have one foot in either side of the rock/blues divide.

‘Try Anything Twice’ is slightly more of a blues album with 13 tracks that include a couple of odd choices, most notably Bill Haley’s rockabilly ‘Rock This Joint Tonight’ and the Count Five’s ‘Psychotic Reaction’, which simply doesn’t sound hungry enough to be convincing.

However, founder member Elliott does blow some sweet toned harp, while keyboard player Angus Rose drops in and out of the grooves and Sandy Tweeddale alternates between melodic motifs and intuitive slide parts on an album that hits the expected standard, but rarely generates real spark.

The best efforts come early on, with the rock-a-boogie title track on which the band plays to its strengths with a solid rhythm track, expansive guitar and Tim’s tough vocal, which owes a lot to Kim Wilson.

‘Money’s Tight’ features a pithy vocal and dobro from Sandy Tweeddale, expressive piano from Angus Rose and a belated harp part from Tim on an ensemble groove.  ‘Leaving Blues’ is a well crafted slice of cool with a tic-toc rhythm, gruff vocal and eerie slide. It’s effectively a sister track to the cool, jazzy dynamics of the Hammond led ‘In My World’, with Tweeddale alternating between perfect rhythm and understated lead. But these are highlights of an album that fails to excite as a whole, as exemplified by the solid rather than inspirational cover of Bo Diddley’s ‘Cadillac’.

The lo-fi garage feel style of ‘Down & Dirty’ – all twang guitar, Farfisa sound and pounding drums – is reprised on ‘Psychotic Reaction’, an interesting but less than essential slice of retro.

‘Try Anything Twice’ is almost an ironic title, as it sounds like an established band trying to blow off the cobwebs without quite having the material and direction to make a sufficient splash.

The laid back groove of ‘Waiting’ is the best of the rest, as Tim delivers a gloriously ragged performance, but this is in sharp contrast to the languid ‘Meandering Man’ on which Sandy’s Leon Russell style groan fails to carry an arrangement that relies too heavily on the hook to rescue it. Angus and Tim also solo lucidly on the sing-along shuffle of the dubiously titled ‘You Can’t Hit A Woman’, as Tim reverts to his tried and trusted faux American accent.

You suspect the harp-led, down home and soft brush stroke style of ‘Bye Bye Bird’ is probably what Tim would really prefer to play. And while this album delivers flashes of a glorious past, it only just does enough to retain long time fans interest, but might struggle to garner new ones. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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