Rory Gallagher THE BEST OF

Rory Gallagher
The Best Of

The Flame Burns Brighter Than Ever.

Does the world really need a BEST OF Rory Gallagher?
Seriously, that’s a serious question.
Rory Gallagher fans; like my good self will undoubtedly already own all, if not most of his recorded work; (he has that effect on people) but ……. and here’s the genius behind Brother Donal’s management of Rory’s archives; this is ‘all killer and absolutely no filler’ whatsoever; and is; no doubt intended for the lucrative Christmas market.
Although a cynical old sod by nature; I have no issue with that at all …….. because just imagine handing this Double Album over to your favourite son, daughter, nephew, niece or just about anyone under the age of 40 who may have only heard about the legend that is Rory Gallagher and watch their faces light up as they hear What’s Going On by the Irishman’s incarnation in the Taste for the very first time!
Then the music takes a magical leap forward 8 short years to Shadow Play; which is mystically completely different but somehow showcases the guitarist’s guitarist and his distinctive singing like probably no other here.
I’m reviewing the Double Album; which is what you should buy; as the Single release will surely leave you feeling short changed; and if you’ve received it as a gift left thinking the giver was a cheapskate and didn’t love you as much as you thought.
One of the funny things about this is that the tracks aren’t in chronological order; but that’s no problem as you get to hear and appreciate Rory’s amazing diversity in a whole new manner; CD 2 starts with the dirty Blues of 1979’s Bad Penny then follows with the Bluesiest song I’d ever heard in 1973, Walk On Hot Coals; then we get transported back to 1969 with Blister on the Moon (from Taste’s debut album) then if your senses aren’t already off the Richter Scale by this stage, our Man goes acoustic AND electric on Loanshark Blues.
Even if we just judge him by those 4 songs alone; I defy you to give me the name of another act who could possibly evolve so much, while still maintaining quality control like no other?
That was always the beauty of buying a new Gallagher album; you didn’t really know what to expect in advance, but you were always sure that your blind faith in his talents would be rewarded to the hilt.
In theory there should be no surprises here; as I already own every song and every album he ever released (plus a couple he and his record company didn’t know about #wink) but there are ………. I’ve not heard it in years, so Philby blew me away last week and again this morning; what a fabulous song ….. and let’s not forget what a truly great songwriter Rory was; which again comes to the fore on the slow and sleazy Bought & Sold, Jinxed (which I’d completely forgot about!) and even Cruise On Out which is perhaps the Rockiest song here.
There was nothing wrong in what his contempories were releasing in this period; but I loved and indeed, still love the way he sometimes went left of centre in his subject matter; Tattoo’d Lady? This was 1973 when such creatures were only seen in Fairgrounds and not in the Asda on a Tuesday afternoon.
Philby of course was an infamous Spy in the 1960’s and one of my favourite songs of all times, Daughter of The Everglades now sounds like Rory invented Americana!
With hindsight, the imagery in Rory’s songs really does transcend what most everything those around him were releasing back in those days. Moonchild? Ghost Blues? Calling Card? None are really his most ‘famous tracks’ but show a man who had a fertile imagination; and a romantic one too when you re-hear They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore (which now sounds a bit like latter day Taste? Discuss?), Just The Smile and I Fall Apart after all these years.
There’s obviously an obligatory ‘never before released’ track to tempt completists; and it’s been a bit of a slow burner for me. Although famous for including older Blues standards in his repertoire; I can’t think of another contemporary track he’s ever recorded (or played live; apart from a Born Under a Bad Sign and Politician with Jack Bruce) so hearing him turn the Rolling Stones (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction alongside Jerry Lee Lewis into a down and dirty Chicago Blues has been fascinating and illuminating in it’s own way.
To some greater or lesser degree I could stick a pin in and find my Favourite Track, as they probably were at some time in my life; but today I’ve narrowed it down to three; all of which I hadn’t played in donkey’s years and have not just surprised me but re-kindled my admiration for Rory Gallagher …….. It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again from the much maligned ON THE BOARDS by Taste, with it’s Jazzy undertones and liquid gold guitar playing; then there’s Crest of a Wave which still sounds nothing like anything else he ever recorded; and conjures up memories of seeing him play it live several times.
The winner though (I think) is A Million Miles Away; possibly because I had forgotten about it; but the sublime skill and nuances in his guitar playing are truly exemplary and the song itself is as romantic a Blues tale as ever straddled what we now call Americana as I may ever have heard.
Old Farts like me are always going to look at the track list and think, “why is X not here?”
But, even if your favourite track isn’t here (and these are all from the studio albums; before you ask) ……. what would you actually miss off?
Every album is featured in one way or another; and remember …… this is a retrospective of an all too short career destined for a whole new generation to discover ……. so if that’s you, get over yourself and Trust in Brother Donal to keep the flame burning brightly.
Damn ……. in this format, Rory Gallagher just may be even better than I have been telling people for half a century!

Released October 9th 2020


The Georgia Thunderbolts GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS

The Georgia Thunderbolts
Mascot Records

Deluxe Southern Rock With Added Fire and Water.

Even before I’d heard a note I pretty much knew that I was going to like this debut EP from Mascot Records’ latest signings; but nothing prepared me for how much!
To the uninitiated and the lazy among the Reviewing Fraternity, The Georgia Thunderbolts sound a lot like Lynard Skynard; but that’s primarily because singer TJ Lyle sounds uncannily like Ronnie Van Zandt; especially on the cocksure and swaggering opening track Looking For an Old Friend; which features some liquid gold guitar breaks from Riley Couzzourt and Logan Tolbert; but the more you check out the fine print, the more you unearth ever more amazing influences that all come together in a way that makes me hanker for being 18 again.
While the twin guitars on track #2 So You Wanna Change the World are ‘trademarked Southern Rock’, their ‘Heavy’ arrangement and actual guitar playing is more Paul Kossoff and Stevie Marriott than anyone I can think of who hails from South of the Mason Dixon Line; and that rock solid bass/drum combo must surely come from a lifetime listening to Andy Fraser and Simon Kirke from Free.
So, dear reader …….. add the Best of Southern Rock to the Best of British Blues Rock with an extra shot of Black Crowes for good measure; and you will understand why the pounding beat of Lend a Hand (courtesy of drummer Bristol Perry and bassist Zack Everett) not just set the hair on the back of my neck upright; but had me desperately trying not to ‘head bang’ in the car!
The songs and stories therein, are instantly memorable and the finale Set Me Free is almost anthemic with a hook so big and phat that I couldn’t help thinking “Captain …….. we’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
Of course there’s one other track on this all too short EP; and that’s the epic and perhaps epoch-making Spirit of A Workin’ Man; which majestically captures the spirit of the bands’ name The Georgia Thunderbolts.
My major criticism is that this is an EP and not an actual Long Player; but Lordy do I wish that I could turn back time to be 18 again and if I could; The Georgia Thunderbolts would easily be my new Favourite Band of all time ……. duuuuude!

Released August 21st 2020
Buy Don’t Spotify

Jeff Fetterman Band SOUTHERN SON

Jeff Fetterman Band
Southern Son

Sizzling, Soulful and Southern Blues Straight Outta Pennsylvania.

As regular readers know we desperately try to be as up to date as possible with our reviews at RMHQ; but a new supplier of amazing Blues Music in America keeps sending us albums from his 2020 back pages; and some are just too hot to ignore ……. so let’s welcome Jeff Fetterman into our crazy little world.
The accompanying bio is limited; so apart from this probably being the Bands 4th album and they hail from the Rock and Roll capital of Pennsylvania ….. Bradford!
It’s all about the music.
The opening drums/keyboard intro to I Don’t Want To was already more than enough to capture my attention; but when a tight and funky horn section kicked in to introduce Fetterman’s husky and ‘lived in’ voice; my SPIDEY-SENSES already deduced that this was going to be a rather special song ……. and it is.
A crippling story of heartbreak after capturing his lover in another man’s bed ……… but the the cruel twist in the tail is that he still loves her; all told over a red hot rocking Blues melody full of Fetterman’s signature liquid guitar playing.
What’s not to like kids?
Who said start with an explosion and then build the tension? Well; that’s what we get here.
There’s a whole lotta Soul in Fetterman’s songs but the band and he are Rhythm and Blues Rock personified on Ain’t Got You and extra spicy 49/61 which has a sting in the tail that has to be heard to be believed.
The horn section sit out a few songs; and bizarrely aren’t even missed on Tell Me Baby and the sublime and sultry Living With the Blues which are exemplary examples of why The Blues can be as sad can be, yet still sound truly beautiful too.
Blues instrumentals can often be a bit ‘light’ but here; Blues For Charlie comes over like a velvety mix of Booker T with Buddy Guy or Robert Cray on soul affirming geetar.
There’s a cover version here that took me three plays to recognise; as I thought it was some kind of nod to Curtis Mayfield; but who would ever have expected a Funk rendition of All Along The Watchtower to be this damn good? Not me, that’s for sure; but it is.
On my copy there are two bonus tracks; Voodoo Funk, which is exactly what it says on the tin and will be a floor-filler at the Hoockie Coochie Club in Newcastle if Warren ever hears it and the other couldn’t be more apposite – Southside Blues, which features some phenomenal electric keyboard playing.
Which brings me back to choosing a Favourite Song; which is sort of easy; but also highlights the incredible diversity that Jeff Fetterman shows in not just his playing but the way he chooses his songs to suit the music.
Going Down to Nashville just stands out from the crop; full stop. Twang guitar that’s worthy of Chet Atkins but a melody and a dynamic taken straight from the Chuck Berry play-book makes this sizzle, shake and shimmy like the girl Fetterman is singing about and it works for me.
Jeff Fetterman has been around a long time; playing every club withing a 300 mile radius of his home town and sharing stages with just about every household name Rock or Blues guitarist to venture into that part of America; but this album is far too good to stay in Pennsylvania …… it deserves a much wider audience; and Europe is gonna love it!
Released May 2020

Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition)

Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam
AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition)

Taking British R&B to a Whole New Swampy and Rapscallion Level.

I can’t keep up date with Wily Bo Walker’s musical releases. Sometimes they are brand new songs and others remixes and AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition) is a wonderful hybrid of the two; with album #1 being all new songs featuring Wily Bo and the Danny Flam Big Band while album #2 is full of yet more re-mixes of Mr Walkers recent songs put through the veritable musical mixer.
So, let’s start with the new stuff; which is why you will be parting with your hard earned pocket money.
The title track Ain’t No Man a Good Man storms out of the speakers and not just grabs you by the throat; but shakes you to the core and hardly leaving you able to breathe.
Walker’s expressive and rasping vocals are marched perfectly by Danny Flam’s Big Band and perhaps it takes such a big sound to bring out the best in not just his words, but Walker’s vocal enthusings too ……. as he ain’t sounded much better than this!
The themes here are not just very cinematic but timeless and full of raw energy, none more so than the swinging R&B of Velvet Windows (Treme Trippin’) which fair rattled the office window when turned up to 9.
When you hear songs like Fool For You (2020 Hindsight) and Ain’t Hungry No More you will wonder why the grave voiced Wily Bo and the majestic Danny Flam Big Band don’t have their own Saturday night TV Show; but sometimes we like to keep some things a secret, don’t we?
It’s far too obvious to compare this album to Dr. John’s output; but there certainly is plenty of Gris Gris in Did I Forget (to tell you I love you?) and Time to Forget You; but to these ears, there’s more than a smidgen of Georgie Fame and Zoot Money in their too; making this British R&B on steroids!
If you even vaguely like Van Morrison’s Big Band excursions, you will simply love Wily Bo’s sultry and storming version of St. James’ Infirmary Blues to death!
Album #1 closes with an amazing reinvention of Build My Gallows (Ain’t No Return) and on any other album this dark and brooding five minutes would easily be my Favourite Track, but …….. there’s the enigmatic Night of The Hunter which is most obviously thematically linked to the film of the same name; and certainly lives up to its Film Noir credentials too.
Historically I’m not re-disposed to re-mixes of songs; but here I can’t urge you strongly enough to buy the Deluxe Version or else you will miss out on hearing I Want To Know (NY Funk Mix) and When the Angels Call Your Name (Bourbon Street Mix) as both sizzle like a bloody steak on a red hot BBQ.
Drive (Two Lane Blacktop Mix) and Walk In Chinese Footsteps both deserve a courteous mention too; with the latter making me hunt out my old Was Not Was 12″ singles for the first time in years.
I’ve always loved Bo Diddley; but never imagined someone could re-imagine Who Do You Love? in the way Wily Bo does with his NYC Chiller Mix; but it’s truly amazing ……… think of it as a Michael Jackson/Tom Waits mash-up featuring Miles Davis and the Meters then mixed by Aaron Neville!
Then; last but not least there is the majestic For The Children which I don’t believe I’ve heard before in any guise; but have fallen head over heals in love with.
There you have it, Wily Bo Walker (and friends) have come right out of left field to deliver not just one; but two stunning new albums that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Released 31st July 2020

Hurricane Ruth GOOD LIFE

Hurricane Ruth LaMaster
Good Life

Phwoah! Sizzling, Slinky and Impassioned Blues With a Soulful Slant.

Some weeks I feel I’m part of a Rhythm & Blues Secret Society as I keep receiving amazing albums from bands and singers that neither I nor anyone I know has ever heard of; but are always World Class!
This is Hurricane Ruth LaMaster’s fifth album and has not just blown my Lockdown cobwebs away …. but blown my mind too.
The opening track Like Wildfire certainly lives up to its title ……. Ms. LaMaster comes at you like a wild cat on hormones as the guitars sound like they were recorded during the St Valentine’s Day massacre and the rhythm section powered by the Springfield nuclear reactor; and is that Jerry Lee Lewis on piano? I doubt it; but hear this song and you will easily understand my query.
Phew …… first time I heard this song I felt like I needed a lie down in a darkened room straight afterwards; but Ruth ain’t taking any prisoners, so the next song; Dirty Blues may not be quite as fiery but it sizzles and slinks in a way that will make a maiden Aunt blush.
After only two tracks I knew I was in for the long haul; and said a silent prayer to the God of the Blues that this band will tour the UK in the very near future.
As her CV suggests, Ruth LaMaster sure isn’t no one trick pony; she simply scorches your senses on She’s Golden and Late Night Red Wine, while she can break your heart in two with the sad and soulful Good Life which features some truly mournful Hammond organ too.
The songs are in general quite suburb, mixing Classic Blues themes with contemporary edginess and all channeled through Ruth’s vocals which can be dynamic one moment and truly melancholic the next yet always sounding engaging to the listener.
As usual I’ve played this album in the car and the RMHQ office too; and it’s slotted into all kinds of moods …… both good and bad tempered!
Choosing a Favourite Track hasn’t been particularly easy; as 4 or 5 have jumped out at different times (see my notes about my mood swings) but I’ve narrowed it down to three Black Sheep, Who I Am and I’ve Got Your back. All are completely disparate and sum up the album in their beautiful differences; with I’ve Got Your Back being a slow Soulful groove and lyrics that will bring a lump to your throat; and with the way things have been recently, the punchy, potent and powerful Black Sheep has become something of a theme tune whizzing around inside my head. Then, there’s Who I Am ….. phwoah ………the Hendrix meets Prince in a roadhouse melody does it no harm at all and Ruth’s intensely passionate and feverish delivery sent not just shivers, but tingles too down my back! The song certainly sounds like it’s meant to be autobiographical but as with all the best written songs through the ages; a lot of listeners will think “that is about me!” Therefore it is the official RMHQ Favourite Song on what will become one of our Favourite Albums of 2020.
While the themes here may not be of the happiest of varieties; I’m a grown up so GOOD LIFE has been a joy from start to finish; and several times in the last month has been played 3 or 4 times on rotation, which is quite some feet in my office.

Released July 10th 2020


Jimmy The Dog
Rattlesnake Love

Is it Classic? Indie? Blues Or Glam? Who Knows; But it Certainly Rocks.

Where does the time go? It only seems like 5 minutes since I thoroughly enjoyed Jimmy The Dog aka Jim Ferrie’s last release RUNNIN’ WITH THE PACK yet it was 2016 he tells me!
Whatever, it’s 2020 now and the time is right for some Classic Indie Rock and Roll with a Glam heartbeat …… isn’t it?
Or is that just me?
The title track with it’s wonderful ‘metaphor’ for a tempestuous relationship starts the album and immediatly had me turning the dial to nine (I can’t cope with 11 anymore).
Ferrie’s grizzled vocals, blistering guitar playing (somewhere between Hank B Marvin and Jeff Beck!) coupled to bass and drums that wouldn’t have been out of place on TOTP anytime in the mid 70’s sets the tone for a bunch of songs that will set your heart racing and your feet shuffling.
The 2020 ‘Lockdown’ meant that work dried up in Ferrie’s recording studio …… so with time on his hands and songs in his heart …. this album is the outcome.
They say the ‘Devil makes work for idle hands’ and that may be the case here; but ……… ‘The Devil also has all the great tunes’ too!
Hard For You and Needle in a Haystack are slinky and sleazy in equal measure and destined many a Late Night playlist on those streaming sites I detest; but when Ferrie unleashes his inner sinner, the Twangtastic Lovin’ The Old School Way and Little Miss must surely be heading for the Classic Rock radio stations too, won’t they?
Although they actually sound a bit left of centre tucked away among the Rockers, Ferrie slides in a couple of lowdown Bluesy tunes too …….. and it won’t break my heart to hear a full album of songs like Bourbon & Rye or Sunrise or album closer, the rather racy and naughty Johnson, either!
But, it’s really the Rockers that you will remember for years to come.
MAN! The squealing and squally guitar in Race to Win very nearly overshadows Ferrie’s nicotine stained powerful vocals, but loses out by the second verse; and at this stage I can’t not mention the organ playing; which is somewhat akin to Keith Emerson in his Nice days! (There’s a reference for the oldies out there!)
The other doozy; The Devil Takes Care of His Own is by far and away my Favourite Track here; echoes of Thin Lizzy and my favourite Glam Rock band Hello are in there, but this is pure and simple Jimmy The Dog at their (his?) very, very best.
It’s odd to think, for someone of my vintage; how much music has and hasn’t changed in the last half century.
I hear so many influences here, it’s frightening; but add them all together and they add up to what is now known as Classic Rock I suppose; but with an Indie slant as well as a Blues heart
I think Jimmy The Dog’s RATTLESNAKE LOVE could be the sound of my Summer.

Released July 1st 2020

Rory Gallagher 25th ANNIVERSARY

Sunday the 14th June, will mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of the late, lamented musician Rory Gallagher.
With the current lockdown restrictions, understandably, events have had to be curtailed for the occasion; with the postponement of the unveiling of a statue outside of the Ulster Hall in Belfast, and the annual Rory Gallagher four-day music festival, in Ballyshannon, Ireland plus other planned tribute shows too.

However, like the musician’s own ability to improvise, the day will be marked by Rory followers around the world. 
WDR TV, in Germany, will be transmitting his many infamous Rockpalast performances and other European countries will be broadcasting Rory documentaries and concert programming too.

On the 14th June, Eagle Rock in partnership with YouTube will screen Rory’s performance with Taste at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 at 8:00 p.m. (BST) and in the build up to that a streamed mini Rory festival will be taking place across Facebook and YouTube, staring at 5pm, featuring a number of musicians who played with or are inspired by Rory.
Hosted by radio legend David ‘Kid’ Jensen, the stream will include ‘Band Of Friends’ featuring Rory’s former drummer and bass player Brendan O’Neil and Gerry McAvoy, Belfast born singer/songwriter Dom Martin and Peter Donegan, son of Rory’s first musical hero Lonnie Donegan.

Hot Press, Ireland’s premier music and cultural, magazine are producing a special edition to honour the occasion (released June 18th) and together with Fender Musical Instruments they will host the opportunity for someone to win a Fender ‘Rory Gallagher’ replica Stratocaster. The publication will also feature contributions from the Rory’s many admiring peers including new interviews with SlashJohnny MarrJ Mascis amongst others.

2020 has already been a successful year for Rory’s legend, with the release of the ‘Check Shirt Wizard’ album (a live collection of Rory’s early 1977 UK performances), saw the artist return to the album charts, notably, claiming the No.1 spot in Billboard’s Blues chart for three consecutive weeks. “This is a crowning honour in celebrating my brother, in his anniversary year and especially an acknowledgement of his devoted following” said Dónal Gallagher, Rory’s brother and manager.
RMHQ Review by John Jobling

Rory Gallagher Online Tribute Concert 5pm to 8pm June 14th can be streamed from: &

At 8pm the Taste Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 concert can be streamed from:


Eliza Neals
Black Crow Moan
EH Records

A Blues Rockin’ Emotional Rollercoaster.

I was first told about this album two months ago, and due to the vagaries of the Postal system in the US at the moment, it’s now arrived three weeks after the original release date.
Hey Ho! Due to the Covid-19 ‘lock-down’ around the world time appears to be standing still; so no harm – no foul!
Yikes! First song, Don’t Judge The Blues opens with some of the dirtiest Resonator guitar I may ever have heard; and not just sets the tone for the next two and a half minutes; but the whole album itself! It’s a veritable foot-stomper with Eliza’s expressive voice showing no signs of wear and tear in the three years since her last release; 10,000 Feet Below …… which still finds it’s way onto the Rocking Magpie Mobile stereo.
I received this album at about 9.30 this morning and it’s been hermetically sealed to the office stereo all day …….. and the expression ’emotional rollercoaster’ has sprung to mind several times ….. phew, this lady has absolutely drained me over the last nine hours!
I will get the ‘Guest Stars’ out of the way early on; as this album is about Eliza, pure and simple; but Joe Louis Walker adds his amazing trademark guitar licks to The Devil Don’t Love You and the title track Black Crow Moan; but doesn’t even come close to ‘stealing the show’ on either; with the former being a sizzling Gospel song and the latter a fabulously slow and slinky ballad that will set the hair on your neck on end.
The other is a new name to me, Derek St Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band; but fear not comrades; he shows an immaculately subtle touch on the emotionally fragile Never Stray and then on Ball & Chain gives us a bit of an Albert King style Masterclass as Eliza raises her game in the sultriest of manners; proving that she really, really should be taken more seriously by Blues Aficionados and critics the world over.
On Why You Ooglin’ Me? she not just matches those two Cats, note for note on the electric guitar, but her words and vocal performance show she’s a lady that’s not to be messed with ……… she fights back, and most likely wins!
For an hour this afternoon album closer, the Chuck Berry homage Take Your Pants Off! was a shoe-in to be my Favourite Track here; and history will probably show it be a Show-Stealer and Show-Stopper at future gigs; but I’m now being drawn back to the innovative Watch Me Fly and the intensely romantic Run Sugar Run; which is now tipping the scales in its favour, as it’s just that ‘little bit different’ and is now touching me in ways the other one isn’t; so Run Sugar Run is the Official RMHQ Favourite Track ….. for today.
Because of my historical love of ‘Blues Rock’ PR’s and Labels across the world somehow find our tiny site and inundate us with albums by singers and bands with only a hint of The Blues in their music; and for future reference …… I/we grew out of Hard Rock when we a) learnt to shave and b) discovered girls!
Stop It!
Eliza Neals on the other hand takes the Blues and Rocks every drop of passion, pathos and S.O.U.L out of it in a way that could and should actually the benchmark for the genre.

Released April 20th 2020

Tom Gilberts OLD SCHOOL

Tom Gilberts
Old School
Polymerase Records

Look No Further For The Latest Master of Laid Back and Cool Electric Blues.

Several times over the last ten years or so I’ve had ‘deep and meaningful’ conversations with friends and relatives about the standard of guitar playing; most notably of the electric variety in the 21st Century.
Obviously none of them listen to even 10% of the ‘new music’ I do; but I still get left dumbfounded when someone, who should know better tells me that “no one will ever be better or more innovative than ‘BB King or Hendrix or Clapton or Gallagher or Howe’ depending on their taste half a bloody century ago!
Get with the programme Grandad!!!
Now I’m not saying Tom Gilberts will be dividing opinion like that in 2070; but he sure can bend those strings in a way that Eric Clapton stopped doing long before he’d discovered the joys of Mother Heroin.
Don’t get too excited; as Tom Gilberts taps into the mellower side of Yer Blues, with opener ‘Lady’ Luck being the type of timeless song that we normally associate with BB King or Albert Collins; and his guitar simply shimmers and shines behind his richly sorrowful heartbreaker; that sets the mood just perfectly for what is to follow.
I just love the way Tom makes these complex tunes sound so effortless and even graceful; especially the instrumentals My Paper Bag, Brown’s Camp the Jazzy Dark Clouds, which in lesser hands could easily drift and meander; but here there’s not one single note out of place.
There’s even a cheeky nod in the direction of ZZ Top too, although even in their earlier Bluesy days they would never have been as laid back as Tom Gilberts on Ass, Gas or Grass is; but Hell; I love this tune.
Listening over the last few days the words ‘cool’ and ‘chilled’ keep springing to mind; and there’s no other words that describe the vibe on another sweet instrumental The North Fork and album closer The Fuzz; which by the standards of what goes before is very nearly a Whig-out!
Phew; what to select as a Favourite Track? Zoot Suit Shuffle combines a head mix of Blues and Jazz licks to give us a lovely toe-tapper; but I think I’m being drawn more and more to the title track Old School as Gilberts’s bottle-neck playing is spell-binding and the song itself ticks every box we have here; for uptempo Classic Blues; so it’s the Winner.
Obviously we all have differing tastes; and there’s nothing wrong with that at all; but today most of the Blues I read about elsewhere is really Rock music masquerading as The Blues; and much of it I like …….. but if you want to go Old School while wanting to discover some real new music from an extraordinary guitarist who can write and sing a damn fine song; then look no further than Tom Gilberts.

Released April 17th 2020

Tomas Doncker MOANIN AT MIDNIGHT (The Howlin Wolf Project)

Tomas Doncker
Moanin’ At Midnight (The Howlin Wolf Project)
True Groove

Damn Fine and Imaginative Reworkings of True Blues Classics.

I’d never heard of Tomas Doncker before receiving this album a month ago; and when I read that not only was it a ‘Covers’ Album of Howlin’ Wolf songs coupled to it originally being released in 2014, my heart sank and it was sent to the ‘maybe’ pile.
But ……… my magic I-Phone did its business again last Saturday night when I was driving in the middle of a storm and Spoonful slithered out of the car speakers like a Black Mamba; and sounded just as dangerous and frightening!
So; it was straight back to the beginning and Doncker’s contemporary re-working of Evil; mixing straight up Chicago Blues with a heady New Orleans Voodoo groove …… man this song alone turned all of my preconceptions on their head.
When I first looked at the sleeve notes I thought “who needs another version of Killing Floor and Smokestack Lightning?”
Well; my friend it appears that I did; and you do too.
When I was an itty bitty teenager and heard Cream’s version of Spoonful and the Stones’s Little Red Rooster I naively believed them to be there own songs; and when I later heard the originals my head spun at the concept that someone could change a song so dramatically.
Which is exactly what Tomas Doncker does here; not a single song sounds like the brilliant originals; and mercifully not like any 60’s or 70’s pastiche either ……. Doncker somehow brings these ancient Classics bang up to date with his imaginative arrangements; without ever losing the excitement or beauty of the Wolf’s originals.
For this ‘Deluxe Edition’ release there are four added tracks, with spectacular live versions of Smokestack Lightning and Back Door Man plus one of Doncker’s own songs; Shook Down which sits very neatly in this package and you can tell what it’s been influenced by.
There’s also a weird Dub Mix of Moanin’ At Midnight too ……… which may or may not stand repeated plays (just sayin).
Which neatly brings me to my Favourite Track; Tomas Doncker’s inspired reworking of Moanin’ At Midnight, which owes a lot to the original but is as sharp and dirty as 21st Century Blues gets, adding whizzes, sizzles and groans to one of the greatest songs in the history of The Blues.
There’s absolutely nothing for Blues purists to get their knickers in a twist here; but this is primarily aimed at open-minded music lovers who ain’t afraid of ‘change’ ………. as I said earlier; if it wasn’t for the British Blues Bands of the 1960’s experimenting and reworking these songs 50 years ago they would have been consigned to the History books.

Released 3rd April 2020