Album review: CHRIS BEVINGTON – And Friends

Chris Bevington - And Friends





Chris Bevington Music [Release date 10.02.14]

At the time of writing, ‘Chris Bevington And Friends’ has already graced the Top 40 download blues chart. And that’s no surprise as the Stoke on Trent blues-rock veteran is a Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Walter Trout disciple who covers four tracks by KWS and 2 by Trout, plus Walter’s arrangement of Buddy Guy’s ‘She’s Out There Somewhere’. He’s also is a consummate groove player, who has surrounded himself with some fine musicians to anchor some thoughtfully chosen material with a rock solid bass to match his producer style vision.

A dozen guests help colour 11 tracks, engineered by Daniel Rowley who nails a crisp recording. The style is contemporary rock-blues with salient brass, keyboard and harp parts and a layered sound that never loses sight of the kernel of a song.

The album is full of acoustic-to-electric textures, plenty of feel, and accumulated experience of enthusiastic musicians, who despite the piece-meal method of recording, sound like a real band.

The friends include guitarist and vocalist Jim Kirkpatrick (FM/Bernie Marsden), guitarist, vocalist and drummer Scott Ralph (Robbie Williams), George Glover on keys (Climax Blues band), drummer Paul Burgess (10cc) and Angela Lazenby who contributes bv’s on 7 tracks. All 12 guests plus producer Daniel Bowley are an integral part of an organic sounding whole.

In reality, the various guests appear on different tracks and bring a subtle variety in style, tone and phrasing to a bristling mix that somehow squeezes some spark out of a carefully crafted layered approach.

Such is the natural ebb and flow of the album, that apart from re-arranged, but overly familiar ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ and ‘Crossroads’, you’d be hard pushed to realize that the whole set is full of covers.  And that’s far from being a criticism, as Chris brings original arrangements, overt passion and musical excellence to bear on an excellent album.

KWS’s ‘Dark Side of Love’ opens with strong rhythmic feel that features Scott Ralph con confident vocals and full blooded guitar offset by soulful horns, on a song that combines contrasting depressing lyrics with exhilarating playing.

There’s a confident take of Walter Trout’s ‘Let Me Know’, complete with a brooding organ, a kicking horn arrangement and mighty bv’s, as Scott sculpts his solo with feel and precision and the band rocks out on ‘She’s Out There Somewhere’ and you can feel the energy as Chris encourages Rob Wilkinson to solo on harp

Another Trout cover, ‘All I Want Is You’ is a deep groove full of layered sounds, while the clever use of  dynamics is further evidenced  by Jude Cole’s ‘Heart Of blues’, as Chris’s exclamatory ‘hit it’, levers us into a electric stomping groove and mighty bv’s.

KWS’s ‘Somehow, Somewhere, Someway’ and the catchy hook of ‘Blue On Black’ are good choices and illustrate Chris’s role as a catalytic conduit who gets the best possible return from both the material and his guests.

The album is shot through with rocking intensity and counter weighted by mellow grooves and plenty of light and shade. It finds its equilibrium halfway between the reverential and inspirational.  Albert Cummings’s closing ‘Party Right Here’ provides a fitting finale to a vibrant rocking blues album. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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