Five Points Gang
21st Century Progressive Blues Experiment Siphoned Through, London, Texas and Chicago.
As we well know; you can’t please all of the people, all of the time hence our Bluesoligist Extraordinaire Jack Kidd returned this album to base, citing that ‘it was too noisy‘.
I on the other hand pressed ‘play’ one night in the car after a particularly venomous day at work; only to find myself turning the volume to the right three times!
I’ve played it 4 or 5 times now and can certainly see why it might not appeal to Jack; but hey ….. this is the Blues; in fact who or what actually defines what exactly is The Blues anymore?
For me it’s always been a fast moving lava flow adding and subtracting along the way.
Which is where Brit’ trio Five Points Gang come into the equation; they certainly sit in the Blues camp; but on the Heavy; and possibly even what we used to call Progressive Rock (NOT Prog!!!) arena and what they do; they do exceptionally well.
They throw down the metaphorical gauntlet straight away; with How Long; written just after George Floyd was murdered and contains the punchline; ‘How long to equality‘; which sort of takes off from where the legendary Free ended, without ever battering you over the head with any ‘message’ you are left to make your own decisions.
Grizzly yet fluid guitar aligned to drum and bass that are straight out of a British Steel factory and in the exotically monikered singer Joe Pearson; someone who appears to sing as if his very life depends on it.
I’m in for a million!
Apparently they have already released a Live album; but this is their actual debut album; and in my humble opinion they have certainly spent their formative years honing their craft; as all 13 tracks here are fully formed without an ounce of filler anywhere.
I will tell you how good these kids are; as I hadn’t read the Press Release before playing the album I had not a single inkling that they were British; yet when I know that they couldn’t be from anywhere else!
You see they deftly mix up both Chicago and Texas style Blues with ease and dare I say it; grace.
There are slight nods to Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan in All Points Bulletin, Let’s Stay Together and probably The Secret too; but it’;s a homage if anything and certainly not plagiarism, as these songs are purely Five Points Gang deluxe.
Not everything here is of the fire and brimstone ilk; with the band ‘slowing things down and getting funky’ on the rather beautiful All She Said, I See You Now and What Kind of Man which features some of the sweetest Rock guitar licks I’ve heard in a long time; subtle and silvery too.
What I particularly like here is the songwriting; it’s quite mature as it deals with relationships in all their ragged glory (finale I See You Now being a great example); and they still manage to treat their lovers as equals and even betters; thankfully not strutting any kind of macho nonsense we used to hear in Blues Rock; which hasn’t aged well, has it?
The songwriting is imaginative too, using imaginative metaphors to supplement actual memories (I guess and hope) on Love By The Gun and the funky-ass Made Man; which also feature judicious use of a wah-wah pedal ……. Dear Lord that takes me back to my teenage days; getting excited seeing a guitarist fannying about with a series of effects pedals.
As I said earlier Five Points Gang are British to the core; yet are so obviously influenced by America; which sort of brings me around to choosing a Favourite Song here. Like so many albums this decade bands no longer feel the need to write and record a Hit Single; so feel free to just write from the heart and hope someone out there will like the end result; which I obviously do; with two songs that captured my heart and imagination that first fateful night.
Track #2, All in All was the song I turned the dial up to 9 for …… and even if I hadn’t the car would have still been a’ Rockin’ ….. man does this song RAWK! Pearson’s guitar and vocals actually sound as if they are one; and Dinho Barral’s bass playing throughout manages to be both subtle and powerful at the same time; something both Andy Fraser and Jack Bruce would have been proud of; and they are both complemented by drumming from Gaet Allard that is meticulous and ghostly too. Trust me; if you ever hear this track on the radio you will presume it’s a lost Classic from one of your favourite bands; but you can’t remember who.
Even with that great song here; I’m going slightly left of centre for my actual Favourite; starting slow and sleazy then building and building to a crescendo; The Only One; a sad tale of loving, losing and partial redemption (this is a Blues album after all) somehow blends pieces of Free and SRV with Nirvana and Pearl Jam to create a whole new musical experience for this particular listener.
I understand why Jack didn’t like this album; and on a sunny afternoon when I was in a good mood I wouldn’t have either; but I wasn’t and Five Points Gang where just the thing I needed to blast away my own blues and replace them with yer actual Blues of the highest calbre; congratulations all around chaps.
PS I see the band have some gigs and Festivals arranged for October and April; with none being near to me ……. but I see that they are playing the legendary Whistlebinkies and Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on consecutive nights ….. only a cheap train ride away and I can only imagine the sweat running down the walls!
Released September 24th 2021