Self release [Release date 18.07.20]
The Chris Bevington Organisation’s fourth album ‘Sand & Stone’ is a booming, gospel tinged, big band blues-rock outing. And while the songs are written by guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick and vocalist /multi instrumentalist Scott Ralph, it’s left to the bass playing band leader Chris Bevington to forge the weighty 9 piece band ‘s own identity.
And what a band is. From the opening double lines of ‘It’s True’ which jump out the speakers, to the more sombre title track, it’s no exaggeration to say this is a Potteries super group who come together on a layered sound that leaves plenty of room for stretching out.
The album successfully utilises several bristling arrangements that aim for the kind of anthemic grandeur to be found on the blues ballad ‘Home Sweet Home’, which is only sadly robbed off its full potential by an all too soon fade.
The fact we want to hear more of that track speaks volumes about the impact the band makes over the course of 11 tracks that span rock, blues, funk and gospel.
‘Sand & Stone’ is a bluesy sideways step from guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick’s own solo career and the recently released album ‘Prodigal Son’.
And though there are some parallels, notably the guitar led bluster, this album aims for more of a cross over from the early 70’s Derek & The Dominos era to contemporary outfits such as the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
This is especially so especially so on ‘Home Sweet Home’, while ‘Heaven Above’ evokes the opening to Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levy Breaks’.
They further explore the same early 70’s vibe on the gospel tinged arrangement of ‘Big River’, with an opening vocal line that could be The Allman Brothers Band. The track is surely destined to become a live favourite.
You could argue the album could have done with a little more variety, but they do temper their rock-blues imperative with the radio friendly funk of ‘Bad Bad Bad’ – with shades of Climax Blues Band – and the horn-led ‘I Got Time’ which features more significant bv’s.
They hit bullseye on ‘It Was Over’ with a Beatles style guitar line from ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ and Scott Ralph’s’s husky Paul Rodgers and Bad Company style vocal. It’s a perfectly layered track with interwoven sax and guitar all glued together by a cool Hammond.
Chris Bevington’s own presence is significant in the way he locks together the grooves and is a conceptual catalyst for one of the most significant big band blues outfits on the circuit.
He’s brought together a great set of players with a common aim to make things spark. And in horn player Chis Aldridge he’s found the perfect piece in the jigsaw, a team player who can effortlessly switch from a supportive to lead role.
The band hits its stride in the middle of the faux gospel ballad ‘Already Got The Blues’, which works hard to generate an emotional connection.
There’s some similar subject matter on ‘The Blues Is Everywhere’, a horn-led balledic showcase for vocalists Kate Robertson and Sarah Miller framed by a cool horn arrangement.
Musically speaking, the title track is a nod to the band’s blues and gospel influences, though geographically it’s about a ’40s’s mining disaster in their home town of Stoke on Trent.
The stripped-down arrangement comes with sinewy slide, percussion and bv’s. It leaves the kind of dynamic tension at the conclusion of the song that you might expect to be resolved.
The fact it isn’t means you have to go back the beginning in a circular musical journey that many will surely repeat. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 15 November 2020.
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