Let’s just put a stake in the ground right from the get-go and call journeyman guitarist Geoff Everett one of Britain’s longest-standing blues/rock treasures. Geoff has been plying his trade since the ‘60s and, for the uninitiated, he can count amongst his long list of associations, collaborations and band members, the likes of Mike Vernon (UK producer extraordinaire for the Bluesbreakers, Bowie, Savoy Brown, Clapton, Chicken Shack, Peter Green, John Mayall), songwriters George Young and Harry Vander (Easybeats and AC/DC), Alan Lancaster (Status Quo), Carl Palmer, Screaming Lord Sutch, Gerry McAvoy and Brenda O’Neill (Rory Gallagher Band), David Knopfler, Albert Lee, Dave Swarbrick, and Mollie Marriott (daughter of Steve).
Right, based on that CV – Geoff, you’ve got the job ! You don’t get to hang out and work with those kinds of luminaries without having pedigree by the bucket-load. You also don’t get to produce three albums of such consistency and quality without learning and interpreting from your co-conspirators over the years.
Geoff’s three offerings (“Adult Show” – 2011, “The Quick and the Dead” – 2014 and “Cut And Run” – 2015) are aural honey – just dripping with irresistible riffs and licks, a satisfyingly road-weary voice and decorated with icing-on-the-cake harp, slide and, even theramin, throughout. But here’s what sets Geoff apart for me, he can write a darn good tune – that’s the difference between albeit very accomplished pretenders and real artists. Not above giving classic standards the Everett-treatment, it is notably the almost entirely self-penned material on these three albums that makes them a trio of real excellence.
The band’s three albums are equally enjoyable played in or out of chronological order though the earlier Adult Show record is more for the blues purists. There is much to admire here from the spunky guitar and rumbling bass line on “Professor Honey Juice Blues” (a tip-of-the-hat, surely, to SRV ?) to the sweaty, smoky bar-room blues instrumental work-out of Sebastian Blues.
More Gallagher-infused urgency on “When The Damage Is Done” against an almost Dr. Feelgood-esque bass and drum backdrop. I don’t think there are any mountains in Everett’s home base of Kent but he was clearly inspired by a misty, Celtic glen on “Katie” an understated little gem whilst there are echoes of Canned Heat channeling through “Little by Little”. Album closer, “I Got Life” is one of the best songs never written by the Stones and Everett’s gorgeous twangy-jangly Strat work on “Swine Fever Blues” is a fine exploration of arguably what that particular brand of Fender was designed to sound like.
In no particular order, dip into soulful lament “Why Can’t We Stop?” (featuring Albert Lee and Gary Barnacle), the chugging, chunky riffs of “Sin City Blues” and “Forty Days On The Road” and the impossibly-catchy album opener, “If You Can’t Fight, Wear a Big Hat”, all from The Quick And The Dead.
Everett blends so many styles within the (admittedly, fairly-wide) blues-rock genre and that’s what makes his output such compelling listening. There are echoes of hey-day Mark Knopfler on the sumptuous “Lost At Sea”, featuring Mollie Marriott on heartfelt vocals and then a boogie which Quo would be proud of in “Bad Bad Man”. “Airflow Blues” is pure Gallagher jig-and-roll and the whole album evidences Everett’s knack for production which is somehow “polished” and “downright dirty” at the same time.
2015’s offering, Cut And Run continues in a similar vein – listen to the riffs on “Bless My Soul” and “Love That Ain’t Love” and, though they are by now, “classic-Everett”, they could have sat quite nicely on a recent AC/DC album and lead me to ponder over why Rock or Bust was so void of decent ditties – “Angus…go have a cuppa and spend the afternoon with Geoff…he’ll get you back on track”. Just saying !
Maturing years seem to find Everett in more adventurous mood on “Goth Girls” with the simple but effective staccato chop of the riff still overlaid with that signature slide and celtic overtones. “Can’t Let Go” is, to my ears, a proper slice of English swaggery pub rock and “Dole Town” features more of that luscious Strat-stroking and then even gets a bit Who-like with an interesting coda…as I said earlier, you’ll never nod off listening to this guy. Sulky and not a little threatening on “Night Time Creeper”, Everett keeps up the pace in solid style with a couple of country-rock beauties in “Cut and Run” and “Devil’s Train”.
Popular on the gig and festival circuit for years now around Europe, the UK and the States, we’re lucky that Everett and his band also pounds the pavement more frequently than a hungry hooker in and around Kent and the UK– do yourselves a favour, get these albums and go see a national treasure at his work – you won’t be sorry. *****
Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw
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DARWIN Cosmic Rays (indie)
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