Friday, 19 December 2014

Record Review - Old Gray Mule

Published in the December 2014 issue of Rolling Stone (Aust.)

Old Gray Mule
Have Mercy
Cash Munkey Records

The sixth cut from Texan duo Old Gray Mule sees these purveyors of boogie blues in career-best form, their use of the repetition which defines the style (best practiced by the likes of RL Burnside and T-Model Ford) creating a pulsing, surging foundation from which the album builds.

Guitarist CR Humphrey and drummer JJ Wilburn also display a willingness to deviate on Have Mercy, bringing in Zydeco legend Rockin’ Dopsie Jr, whose frenetic accordion on ‘Ass On Fire’ is a masterstroke. Australians Dom Turner and Chris Parkinson feature heavily too.

Throw in a fuzzed variation on Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’ (‘Edge Of My Head’, replete with didgeridoo), and you’ve got an album which brings the blues to a new generation.

Samuel J. Fell

Friday, 12 December 2014

Record Review - Eric Bibb

Published in the December 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

Eric Bibb
Blues People
ABC Music / Universal

The blues has been kind to Eric Bibb – fifty years, dozens of albums, worldwide acclaim; Bibb has the music running through his veins. With his latest studio record then, he’s given back, Blues People being a tribute to the original creators of the music, a homage to their struggles and triumphs.

Along with such luminaries as Taj Mahal, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Guy Davis, Bibb explores a variety of styles that tell these stories, and while the style change, song-to-song, sometimes grates, it’s when he gets back to basics – simple fingerpicked acoustic blues, his gentle yet strong voice flowing over the top – that he truly shines. Not his best cut, but still flashes of brilliance from this unsung hero of the blues.

Samuel J. Fell

Friday, 5 December 2014

Record Review - The Beautiful Girls

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, November 21.

The Beautiful Girls
Dancehall Days

Four years after their last effort, an album which seemed to herald a permanent end to a decade of touring, decent album sales and general sun-soaked musical frivolity, The Beautiful Girls return with a new cut. Unfortunately, it does little to reignite any fire which may have existed before.

Limp and restrained, Dancehall Days is directionless, a collection of tracks lacking in any real originality, instead ripping from a raft of other genres, a jarring hodge-podge of bits and pieces that neither knows what it is, nor where it’s going.

While a few of the tunes (‘Until My Kingdom Comes’, ‘Control’ and the title track) are happy little finger-snappers, they lack the energetic bounce TBG had in their day. Even if they didn’t, they’d be overwhelmed by the insipid, hollow dub and reggae beat that permeates the rest of the record, making for a disappointing effort from a group who should know, and can do, better.

Samuel J. Fell