Album review: WILLE AND THE BANDITS – Steal


Jigsaw [Release date 20.01.17]

With three self-released albums to their name, hardworking three piece Wille And The Bandits have built a reputation way beyond their Cornish roots, with extensive touring, including with the likes of Deep Purple, Quo, and Bonamassa through to the John Butler Trio, honing their skills.

By their own admission their last release Grow (2013) was perhaps a little too diverse, but the band – who Get Ready To ROCK! photographer Simon Dunkerley described as one of the best acts he saw in 2014 (and he saw a few) – look set to put that right with Steal – a stomer of a blues /rock album harking back to formative days of the genre.

With a modus operandi based around the ethos of Cream and the Jimi Hendix Experience, the album was recorded ‘live’ on analogue tape at The Grange Studios in Norfolk using 1950/60′s equipment, and while I’ve heard other bands of the genre adopt a similar tack, few – in my opinion – have achieved such refreshing and dynamic results.

There’s a real vibrancy throughout the set that, without shifting from the band’s core ethos moves effortlessly from hard to soft, and from acoustic to electric.  Guitarist/singer Wille Edwards’ lap steel works adds a rootsy feel, and his vocals have a wonderful ‘period’ coarseness and urgency.

The material is uncomplicated, and works all the better for it.  Yes, there’s some infectious soaring guitar work on the opener ‘Miles Away’, but what it makes it work is it’s a great song.  And yes, the band may be time locked (‘Hots Rocks’ perhaps not unsurprisingly has a Stones groove, as does ’1970′ – an epitaph to the era), but a well written song will transcend the decades and Steal is packed with them.

Matt Brooks’ bass (six string electric and five string double) is frequently used to carry the melody to striking effect, and together with Andrew Naumann (drums, djembe and congas) the pair are equally capable of providing a steam hammer rhythm to underpin a monster riff, as on ‘Atoned’, or adding shade and colour like on ‘Scared Of The Sun’ – a beautiful song that balances power and poise, and the pièce de résistance – ‘Crossfire Memories’ - which evokes shades of Robbie Robertson in its uplifting chorus.

What perhaps singles Wille And The Bandits out from their contemporaries is their willingness to experiment – an element at the very epicentre of the blues/rock explosion, with Wille adding weissenborn and dobro to the melting pot.  The result is an album that feels organic and unrestrained.  No over indulgence and no unnecessary frills, just great songs delivered from the soul. There’s just not enough of that these days.  Too much form over substance.  But there’s substance in abundance here.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

Tour dates

Jan 20 The Acorn  Penzance
Jan 21 The Beehive  Honiton
Jan 26 West End Centre  Aldershot
Jan 27 The Half Moon Putney  London
Jan 28 Ashcroft Arts Centre  Fareham
Jan 29 Giants Of Rock  Minehead
Feb 02 Chapel Arts  Bath
Feb 03 The Vic Swindon
Feb 04 Mr Kyps Poole
Feb 10 City Hall Salisbury
Feb 11 Bridgwater Arts Centre  Bridgwater
Feb 16 Robin 2 Bilston
Feb 17 The Met Bury
Feb 18 The Philharmonic  Liverpool
Feb 23 Old Fire Station  Carlisle
Feb 24 St Boswells Live St. Boswells
Feb 25 Sneaky Petes  Edinburgh
Feb 26 Mad Hatters Inverness
Feb 28 Birnam Arts  Dunkeld
Mar 01 The Lemon Tree  Aberdeen
Mar 02 Hug And Pint  Glasgow
Mar 03 The Octagon  Keighley
Mar 04 Red Car Citizens Club Redcar
Mar 10 Gloucester Guildhall Gloucester
Mar 11 The Malvern Cube Malvern
Mar 17 The Barrel House  Totnes
Mar 18 Palladium club  Bideford
Mar 19 Le Blues Autour Du Zinc  Beauvais, France
Mar 23 The Bodega Nottingham
Mar 24 The Greystones Sheffield
Mar 25 The Matrix Grimsby
Mar 26 Top Secret Blues Festival  Scarborough
Apr 01 Up Festival  Liege, Belgium
Apr 14 Spirit of 66 Verviers, Belgium

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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