Stonkin’ Production [Release date 08.01.17]
‘Colour House Blues Live!’ is a stripped down duo affair which finds guitarist Robin Bibi with his bass player Tony Marten (who doubles on acoustic guitar and banjo) in unplugged mode. The duo explore a dozen tracks that highlight their intuitive ability to glide over material which in some cases is separated by many decades.
The multi-camera shoot works hard to compensate for the fact that two guys with acoustic guitars can only provide a limited visual stimulus. But ultimately some scintillating playing and fine vocals makes this DVD well worth purchasing.
While Bibi’s new album ‘No More A Secret’ is a step up in terms of his song writing, ‘Colour House Blues’ finds him in the more familiar territory of entertaining a home crowd with well chosen covers and dazzling guitar playing.
Robin sparkles on the new album highlight ‘In Too Deep’, on which the duo hit their stride as Robin phrases emotively, before a rather unfortunate over eager fade.
There’s a telling moment too on Guitar Slim’s ‘Things I Used To Do’ – featuring both players on acoustic guitar -when Robin shuts his eyes and let’s his fingers do the talking as he conveys real feel, before a lovely unexpected wah-wah finale.
Tony Marten also shows himself to be a fine singer on the ballad ‘When It’s Raining.’ He also gets inside the atmospheric John Martyn song ‘I Don’t Want To Know About Evil’, not an easy task given the songwriter himself used to slur his words for effect.
Bibi subsequently emulates Tony Marten’s performance on another highlight, the echo reverb cover of Robert Johnson’s ‘If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day.’
Such is the duo’s attention to detail and focus on generating musical spark, that both ‘Shady Grove’ and the hot picking ‘Duelling Banjos’ feel like lightweight fillers, even though are both musically excellent.
Balance is restored with an acapella intro to ‘Down In The Valley’, complete with Robin’s exclamatory ‘Hey’; which signals more spacey echo reverb and superb guitar work.
‘Colour House Blues’ is a well shot DVD without any frills but full of plenty of musical thrills. It’s also an excellent reminder of the high standards to be found on the acoustic blues circuit, and is well worth purchasing ***½
Review by Pete Feenstra
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