Metalville [Release date 27.04.18]
After a couple of decades in the wilderness dabbling with jazz, Lee Aaron made her rock ‘comeback’ in 2016 with the self-financed, and marginally more pop/rock orientated, Fire And Gasoline. An excellent release that seems to have passed us by here at GRTR!
Diamond Baby Blues, takes that renaissance a step further with classy set of 7 covers and 5 originals. And while it’s indisputable that times have moved on, some of us will always have a soft spot for 80/90′s big hair and spandex style of radio friendly female-fronted rock.
While never quite capturing the hearts of the British audience in the way that fellow Canadian countrywoman Alannah Myles did, Aaron, and Diamond Baby Blues in particular, is nevertheless cut from the same cloth. And with a first-rate band of Sean Kelly (guitar), Dave Reimer (bass) and John Cody (drums) this new record is a slick and raunchy blues/rock album par excellence.
To be honest, Aaron’s problem has never been her vocals. It’s been her material, and you can’t help but think, that with the right writers behind her, she could have been a global superstar. And while Diamond Baby Blues isn’t going to completely right that wrong, if her cover of ‘You’re No Good’ - famously covered by Swinging Blue Jeans and Linda Ronstadt – doesn’t get your rocks off, then frankly, you’re a lost cause.
Janet Jackson’s ‘Black Cat’ also gets a blistering workout, but while the hard hitting 12 bar blues of Koko Taylor’s ‘I’m A Woman’ also suits Aaron’s raunchy delivery, you have to question the wisdom of a fairly routine cover of ‘Mistreated’. It’s so well-known and iconically delivered by Coverdale that only putting a completely different slant on the number could add anything to the original.
That said, another fairly straight cover of Little Walter’s ‘My Babe’, is despatched to perfection, ‘Hard Road’ (Stevie Wight) rocks out with some excellent guitar playing from Kelly, ‘Cut Way Back’ (Tom Hambridge) sizzles and smoulders, and of the original material ‘American High’ is a hugely infectious boogie, and ‘The Best Thing’ provides the album’s [obligatory?] power ballad.
A word of praise must also go to the band, and Kelly, in particular, who provide the perfect foil for Aaron’s timeless vocals. It all adds up to a record that will hopefully be both seal her comeback and herald a new beginning. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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