Fat Hippy Records [Release Date 23.09.13]
Right now Gerry Jablonski And the Electric Band is one of Scotland’s best rock blues bands. ‘Twist of Fate’ is full of great songs, tight arrangements, passionate playing and real spark. And even if Dave Innes’s ill health has given the album title some unwanted irony, it hasn’t hampered their mission to produce a rip roaring, riff-led, blues rock album of the highest order.
Much like Blues ‘n’ Trouble 25 odd years before them, The Electric Band has had to work that little bit harder to get noticed outside of their native Scotland and Poland, but this album should help immeasurably.
Led by guitarist Gerry Jablonski and powered by the deep toned effervescent harp playing of Pete Narojczyk, ‘Twist of Fate’ takes no prisoners. From the mighty riff powered opening double lines of ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ via the catchy hook of ‘Liar’ to the closing slide harp-led celebratory roller coaster of Suzi Sunshine’, this is an album that rocks with the same kind of intensity and well crafted harmonies that the band brings to its live shows.
Ultimately ‘Twist of Fate’ is all about the quality and wide variety of the material. Everything somehow subtly fits together and flows elegantly on the back of a bristling ‘live in the studio’ approach, which brings an essential vitality to an often tired genre.
Jablonki’s is equally good on a variety of inspired solos – shifting from a resonant tone, to wah-wah inflected crunch and slide – as he is on expressive vocals, while harp player Narojczyk never overplays, but fills the space beautifully with some deep toned phrasing. And when the two coalesce seamlessly as on ‘Taste of Paradise’ the band soars magnificently over a fluid rhythm section.
However, it’s not all fire and brimstone as evidenced by the piano-led, slow blues of the title track. Gerry’s emotive vocal is perfectly counter balanced by a beautifully toned harp and a poignant hook: ‘So why did you throw it all away, there’s no one left to cry for you today, no more joy left in your heart, success always comes too late, we call that a twist of fate’.
The Electric Band is inspired and versatile in equal portions, slipping into the tightly wrought groove of ‘The Dance’ with its ‘yeah yeah’ Beatles style refrain and Gerry’s wah-wah guitar, before the muscular Trower style guitar riff of The Preacher’. The latter is a perfect example of how they successfully build their songs from a riff led base.
There’s still time for a funky instrumental ‘Dave Says’, which drummer Dave Innes nails with with a crisp, stop-time shuffle rhythm, as Pete and Gerry trade solo’s over Grigor Leslie’s walking bass line. It’s the stuff of a classy road tested band that has finally penned the sort of quality material to match their stellar chops.
‘Twist of Fate’ might not offer anything radically new but it breathes fresh life into a hoary old genre, and if tightly arranged, kick ass blues-rock is your bag, then this album comes highly recommended. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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