Okay, this is the shit. From the chugging opening bars of “Out to the City”, and that voice – close your eyes and tell me Frankie Miller isn’t back in the house. This is swampy Americana at its finest from a very talented bunch hailing from Birmingham, Alabama.
It was the PR guff’s reference to Heath Green’s musical diet of the Stones, Faces, Humble Pie, early Ike and Tina and especially the incendiary live output of the circa 1970 Joe Cocker/Leon Russell-era that initially turned my head and boy, has this lad eaten well !
The Makeshifters manage to incorporate all the best trademarks of rockin’ blues and soul, coupled with quality song-writing and heart-wrenching emotional outpour.
Part roadhouse rock, part impassioned laments, this is a very impressive debut – a bluesy groove, fret board athletics, an intense edginess – not unlike the raw, fresh energy with which The Temperance Movement launched themselves upon our unsuspecting consciousness. And did I mention that voice?
Green is the kind of natural, raunchy vocalist who probably sounded this way the first time he ever opened his mouth – effortless, melancholic, world-weary and lush. “Ain’t It A Shame” will give you goosebumps the way a Ray Charles/Janis Joplin duet might have done, building emotionally through its ripping guitar break – a track which is high up on the “wow” scale.
There’s so much to enjoy throughout this album – the insistent up-tempo rhythm of “Secret Sisters”, “Ain’t Got God” is something of a mini-epic addressing the eternal battle between good and evil whilst “I’m A Fool” recalls the heady days of deep south R&B.
This is a very exciting new album – delivered with fervour and passion aplenty. I guarantee if it had been released in 1970, it would be a collector’s item by now – screw the nostalgia-naysayers, Heath Green and the Makeshifters have produced a stunning debut.
Oozing respect for the varied sources from which the band has drawn its inspiration, it is delivered with fire-in-the-belly, preach-from-the-pulpit gusto. As the swampers of Muscle Shoals would tell you, there’s something in the water down there in Alabama and whatever it is courses through the veins of this fine band. *****
Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw
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