Timezone [Release date 18.12.20]
Given the recent number of lockdown and remotely recorded albums, ‘Electric Blues Mates’ is by no means a unique project. But when it comes down to the spirit of cooperation, focus, intensity and sheer exuberance, this album delivers impressively.
An international roster of rock-blues and roots artists take us on a journey that encompasses rock-blues, melodic rock, swamp blues, Americana into Tex-Mex, soul, Latino influences and always the spirit of the blues.
Better still, there’s a ‘can do spirit’ which gives the album an organic feel, as guest musician cover each other’s material, while they top and tail the album with a Freddie King opener and a jammed out Smoky Robinson bookend.
‘Electric Blues Mates’ is also the result of the impassioned driving force that is Electric Blues Bash agency boss Martin Scheschonka.
He clearly has the contacts and focus to drive the project to its fruition.
The 11 track compilation features Danny Giles’s DGB, the Malone Sibun band, Will Wilde’s Band, JT Lauritsen And The Buckshot Hunters and Rev. Rusty And The Case, with special guests Jimmy Carpenter and Mike Zito on a roots rock project with a bluesy heart.
Given the featured artists appear several times and contribute covers of each other songs, it’s probably best to review the album in chronological order.
The thoughtful sequencing also teases out the dynamics of an old school compilation album shot through with a contemporary feel and recording values.
Danny Giles features on 3 cuts, and his passionate vocal leads the EBB Allstars on the opening Freddie King track ‘Ain’t That I Don’t Love You’, which even includes former King keyboardist Lewis Stephens.
Giles’s vocal is overlaid by Rusty Stone’s vocal retort, before a stinging guitar solo is rounded off by Jimmy Carpenter’s soulful sax.
It’s a rough and ready intro to an album full of remotely recorded frisson.
Vocalist Marcus Malone’s imperious performance on his own co-written ‘Jealous Kind’ dominates both the track and the album. He attacks the song with a real swagger while Innes Sibun provides the perfect foil on slide and sinewy solo.
The aptly named Reverend Rusty And The Case – aka German swamp rocker Rusty Stone – delivers a lived-in, growled vocal on ‘Old Enough’, a track with featuring portentous tom toms and a dirt sounding guitar tone. It makes for a noirish, swampy blues feel that could be early Redbone.
Will Wilde then attacks a cover of The DGB’s ‘Hold On’ with real gusto. He sounds uncannily like Giles, a testament to his own growing vocal prowess.
Guitarist Steve Brook adds a tremulous guitar solo, meaning it’s not until just over the 2 min mark that Will breaks through the tension with his signature harp and some scat singing on a fiery rocker.
Danny Giles returns with a Latino tinged, percussive instrumental called ‘Corazon Gitano!’ (‘Gypsy Heart’).
Both Giles and percussionist Pat Garvey blow away the cobwebs of lockdown, as Danny finds a luscious fatter tone on a funky number that jumps right out the speakers.
Will Wilde again provides startling contrast with the grungy, dirt-toned rocker ‘Low Down Dirty’. The music evokes the song title on an unrelenting, riff-driven guitar piece with another fiery vocal on a stop-time chorus. His subsequent harp break is surprisingly mixed back.
The success of ‘Electric Blues Mates’ is in no small part due to the sense of flow, which is further illustrated by the return of Reverend Rusty with a cover of the current Malone Sibun title track’ Come Together’.
It’s a more relaxed reading than the original. Rusty’s vocal draws you into the song and gives it a sense of familiarity, while he colours the track with some low-down slide.
Malone Sibun return the favour as they cover Stone’s ‘Born For The Blues’, on an outstanding track that plays to the vocal and guitar duo’s strengths.
They explore a down-home bluesy feel with a punchy chorus underpinned by Chris Nugent’s percussive drive. Sibun’s mellifluous solo matches Malone’s perfect vocal on an album highlight.
It’s back to the powerhouse DGB on Will Wilde’s ‘Paranoia’. There’s plenty of bluster, but also subtle dynamics that finally erupt on Giles’s tension breaking solo at the 2.44 mark, while the rhythm section pushes him to the limit.
It’s also a good example of the way the various artists still manage to find spark, despite recording in makeshift surroundings.
Norway’s JT Lauritsen & Buckshot Hunters soulful ‘Sweet On Me’ again brings notable contrast to good effect.
It’s a laidback piece of accordion-led, soulful Tex-Mex into Americana, albeit there’s no mention of the instrument in the credits, so maybe it’s a keyboard.
The track is glued together by Mike Zito on rhythm guitar and topped JT’s soulful vocal, which is given by the perfect finale by Jimmy’s beautifully crafted sax solo.
The EBB Allstars led by Pat McGarvey percussion finally jams out on Smokey Robinson’s ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’.
Malone, Sibun and Wilde are joined by Garvey – who enjoys a vibrant mid-number work-out – and the rhythm section of bassist Rolf Dieter-Schnapka and drummer Alf Schneider on an Isaac Hayes style funky groove with a Latino feel.
Everything bursts into life with Will’s harp break over Sibun’s feverish rhythm, topped by Malone’s velvet phrasing.
Sibun adds a final uplifting cinematic riff on a celebratory finish to a fine lockdown album that is the triumph of music over circumstance. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT
More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22
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 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 January 2021.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.
Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)
Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
DEAD REYNOLDS Bright Lights
ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere
JASON SWEENEY She’s A Fighter
Tweets by Get Ready to ROCK!