Album review: THE BLUES AGAINST YOUTH – Evil Flatmates

Annibale Records

Gianni TBAY (The Blues Against Youth) comes from Rome, still has all his teeth, limbs and senses and has probably never been stabbed in a bar fight but this guy is the real-deal, one-man garage blues band. There are, of course, so-called purists in every musical genre but, given the genuine suffering and hardship endured by the great early bluesmen, the quest for authenticity in the blues is perhaps the most obsessive – a kind of reverse-snobbery….the dirtier and grubbier it is, the better. This is to testify that TBAY is undoubtedly bona-fide – think the rough unvarnished edges of T-Model Ford, the sneering rebelliousness of Johnny Cash, a little rockabilly sprinkling and some country-blues sensibility and you have a legitimate, almost retro album of real quality.

TBAY – who I reckon could use a better “blues name” to really cement his credibility – has his heart firmly planted in the Delta and like the hard-living bluesmen of yore, he tours relentlessly on the back of the five (already !) albums he’s put out since 2009. Whilst his one-man-band format might initially scare some away, be not afraid – this is an album full of part-electric/part-acoustic, slide-soaked, moanin’ and groanin’ hobo blues from “the other side of the tracks”…..and it’s heartily recommended. Gianni’s typical rig consists of guitars, bass drum, hi-hat, whistle, harmonica….and voice – a proper jack-of-all-trades, blues-jamming octopus (I can’t chew gum and write my name at the same time !). On “Evil Flatmates”, Gianni has drafted in sundry Italian friends and muso’s to add breadth to the overall sound but there are plenty of “juke-joint cabaret” cuts to admire.

Stripped back opener, “Injector”, will immediately give you the cut of Gianni’s jib – chugging acoustic blues straight from the back porch. Assuming that grabs you, listen on !

“Far Out Of hand’ is a satisfyingly snarly, Social Distortion-on-quaaludes country/blues whilst “March of the Pirrucuris Apterus” a 90-second orgasm of a slide instrumental rampage….what the hell would rhyme with Apterus anyway, right ?

On “Uncle’s Blues”, Gianni brings it all together very convincingly in this slow, moody bottleneck blues – a “good man, feeling bad” beauty. “Growin’ and Drownin’” would have sat nicely on Johnny Cash’s At Fulsom Prison and “Tucano Bar Club” puts the “tree” back in “country” with some fine finger-picking frolicking.

Gianni has certainly carved out an interesting niche for himself – he keeps his road costs low (and presumably all the drugs for himself) but has produced an incredibly respectful chunk of tunes. Listen to “Hey, Crazy Mama” and tell me The Blues Against Youth doesn’t shit in high cotton – musically speaking.

A young Italian paying homage to the music of the American heartland – seems pretty unlikely but it is unpretentious, uncluttered and unquestionably legitimate….TBAY ? Tribute to the BadAsses of yesteryear more like. GRTR-approved. ****

Review Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

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