Album review: THE SHARPEES – Mississippi Thrill

The Sharpees - Mississippi Thrill

Sharpees [Release date 12.05.14]

Influenced in equal measure by George Thorogood, Dr. Feelgood, Rory Gallagher and Tom Petty’s melodic sensibilities, The Sharpees are a straight to the vein shot of self penned, guitar driven rhythm and blues.

‘Mississippi Thrill’ pushes the veteran rhythm & blues band on to the next level. Rightly termed one of the hardest working r&b band’s in the land, they pour all their energy into some well crafted songs from front man/vocalist Bill Mead.

His rhythm section of bassist Baz Payne and the irrepressible drummer Spencer Blackledge revel alongside special guest guitarists Brian Willoughby (The Strawbs) and Richard Hayes (Bad Influence) on slide, as well as keyboard player Roger Cotton (Peter Green/Paul Cox) and the marvellous Cathryn Craig who sings  bv’s on ‘Strangers’. The result is a refreshing song-led, kicking r&b album with a live in the studio melt down, offset by moments of unexpected polish.

It’s not difficult to pinpoint why they do so well in mainland Europe, as they strip things down to the bone, with riff driven songs, a tight rhythm section and good hooks. But ‘Mississippi Thrill’ delivers much more than the standard r&b package, with strong songs, subtle layered sounds and motorvatin’ rhythms.

Richard Hayes embellishes the beautifully crafted love song ‘Strangers’ with an aching tone and soars on the tightly wrapped title track. Brian Willoughby is equally impressive on lead guitar, particularly on the train-time boogie ‘Crazy Woman Blues’. The song builds relentlessly towards a magnificent backward sounding frenzied guitar finale that might have been higher up in the mix. His conversational style also leaves its irresistible imprint on the Mead and Bazz Payne co-write ‘Song For Allie’.

Keyboard player/engineer Roger Cotton brings extra depth to the Stones influenced and riff-led ‘Jackie D’ with some style Chuck Leavell style piano. Its another album highlight to be put alongside ‘Strangers’, the title track,  ‘Trucking on the E15’, and ‘The Clock’, which features Roger on organ alongside Willoughby’s snaking solo.

All the elements perfectly all into place as Mead revels in his self penned narratives full of shifting locations. He moves from the Deep South on ‘Mississippi Thrill’ – “If the snakes don’t get you, the swallow tails will” – to New York on ‘Strangers’ and references both France and Holland on the outstanding ‘Truckin on The E15’, before finishing with a blues man’s perpetual sense of restlessness on ‘Travelling Blues Man’.

Not everything works as well though, as Bill’s Ian Dury style rap on ‘Play Johnny Play’. suffers from poor phrasing and diction. As a consequence the song’s narrative is overshadowed by some killer guitar lines, but it’s a minor blemish on an album full of good material that reflects the band’s true passion.

‘Mississippi Thrill’ has so far peaked at #9 on the Independent British Blues Broadcasters Association play list, which is a worthy placing for an album with additional touches of class to match some fine songs.

Brian Willoughby adds a final telling solo on the closing  ‘Travelling Blues Man’, another song that accurately reflects the band’s unrelenting work ethic, which is where we came in. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 22 May.

Next session: Sunday 17 July.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 19 June 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT 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 21 June 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 27 June 2022 (Mon-Fri)
REVIVAL BLACK Broken Home (TMR Records)
FLOYA Epiphany (indie)
TWISTER Own Worst Enemy (indie)
MODERN MIMES Down And Dead (Curtain Call Records)
TUNGSTEN Northern Lights (Arising Empire)
THE GREAT LESLIE Feel Alive (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 27 June (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GRACE Hope (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CLASSLESS ACT Welcome To the Show (Better Noise Music)
14:00-16:00 TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT Day By Day (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply