Billy Hector SOMEDAY BABY

billy hector

Billy Hector
SOMEDAY BABY
Ghetto Surf Music

An Exciting and Pretty Damn Unique Soulful Blues Hybrid.

My love of The Blues has been unstinting ever since I first ‘borrowed’ my elder brothers Rory Gallagher and Johnny Winter albums back in the early 1970’s; and my love remains pretty much undiminished now in 2018 as I somehow still manage to discover new artistes with their own unique way of making this historic genre fresh and indeed exciting!
Ladies and gentlemen; I present for your delectation…….Mr. Billy Hector from New Jersey.
Was it was the sparkling slide guitar on opening track Wizard of Babylon that hooked me in, or the way Hector’s distinctive voice and almost sexy guitar playing oozes seamlessly between BB King, Robert Cray and Gary Moore territory with grace and skill; but instantly hook me in he did; and when the title track Someday Baby came wailing from the speakers immediately afterwards I knew I was listening to something very, very special indeed.
Somehow Billy manages to combine Blues Rock with Super-Soul, Funk and even a touch of Jazz Rock in his superb playing on Jolene and the astonishing Road to Happiness as well as many others here too.
But, these days great guitarists are ‘two a penny’ so…….. what makes this album by Billy Hector stand out in a very crowded market is, first and foremost the quality of his songwriting.
In my eyes he can also write a love song that transcends genres like very few others can manage, with Moonlight in Her Eyes sounding like it would have blown our minds if Jimi Hendrix had recorded it; and Creeper delves into territory that very few apart from Sly Stone or perhaps Prince would dare enter; but Hector does with great composure and class!
It’s all too easy to hear why Hector has been winning Awards for decades now and was even both Hubert Sumlin’s and Joe Louis Walker’s ‘touring guitarist,’ when he gets into a groove on Hit The Road and the sweet and sassy instrumental Bareback; which I don’t think is about horse riding! But I return to Hector’s singing and his actual songs; which are all never less than excellent.
Two songs in particular stand out like bright red poppies in a field of beautiful golden wheat; and that’s the timeless Jolene (no….not that one) which has a little bit of everything in it; but sounds like no other Blues n Soul hybrid I can think of and the song that actually takes the accolade of Favourite Track by a whisker……. Butt Naked and Funk; which is exactly as cool and sexy as you’d hope for from a title like that.
There’s a lot going on here with Billy Hector merely fronting an amazing Big Band that I’ve hardly even alluded to but boy, oh boy are they red hot; evoking memories of the night I saw BB King at Newcastle City Hall when the great man allowed just about everyone to have a moment in the spotlight; but never enough to over shadow his own unique talents…..which is exactly what Billy Hector does on SOMEDAY BABY.

Released August 25th 2018
https://www.billyhector.com/

Big Apple Blues MANHATTAN ALLEY

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Big Apple Blues
MANHATTAN ALLEY
Stone Tone Records

Cool Sounds Straight Out of a Sleazy Club on the Wrong Side of 110th Street.

My dealer of all things Blue and with lots of Rhythm in the USA got in touch last week telling me that he had the perfect soundtrack to my upcoming holiday in Noo Yawk. Intrigued I checked the post every day and today ‘it’ arrived……..MANHATTAN ALLEY by a New York quintet Big Apple Blues!
The cover artwork certainly lives up to my fantasies about this fair city; but would the music live up to the hype?
Even from track #1 I loved the bands’ sense of humour as this feisty instrumental is called …… You Gotta Start Somewhere; and what a way to start indeed. Mesmerising guitar licks; a hypnotic drum and bass with some swirling organ and sax in the background…….this is the essence of what I want from NYC in under 3 minutes.
This is followed by a silky smooth and almost Staxtastic tune called Happy; which is exactly what it made me feel.
Historically I’m no lover of instrumental albums; but as I’m imagining it as an actual soundtrack to my week touring the hotspots and fleshpots of a city that I’ve dreamed of visiting for half a century; it works perfectly well in that setting.
Obviously with a few tunes featuring Jim Alfredson on a mighty Hammond B3 it’s all too easy to compare Deep Talkin’ and the slip-slidin’ and slinky Take Two to Booker T; but I hear a lot of Jimmy Smith and Dave Brubeck in there too, but neither sounds like anything I own by any of those maestros.
Then there is the sweet guitar of Zach Zunis on Hudson Breeze which sounds just like something you’d want to hear just as the sun was setting over the yardarm somewhere; anywhere in the world, not just the banks of the Hudson.
Steamroller, on the other hand is masterful slice of funk straight out of a sleazy club on the wrong side of 110th Street; boy oh boy can these fellas make a beautiful noise.
Not on everything; but at this stage in the album Big Apple Blues made me hark back to not just those three Jazz-Soul legends; but more along the lines of the Average White Band who could mould Jazz, Blues, Soul and indeed Rock together and create beautiful music…..just like these cats can.
There is quality oozing out of every single groove on this disc; none more so than the slow and sensuous SDW; written in honour of a dearly departed friend of the band who went by that moniker.
Even without seeing their photos; hearing the way they play their instruments with style, blending guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and harmonica with intelligence and imagination, you know they aren’t in the first flush of youth. It takes years and years of hard work to make sounding this good so simple and slick.
As I regularly point out, there’s no need these days for a commercial hit; but there are certainly a couple of tracks here that wouldn’t be out of place as theme tunes for a Cop Show on TV or even big old gangster movie on the big screen; I’m especially thinking of Subway Rumble and Rock On which would fit that bill as would the RMHQ Favourite Track, Love Will Find A Way; which has a right royal smoky film-noir feel to it.
It’s been very short notice; but I can now see why my friend Frank would think I would like MANHATTAN ALLEY, and tenuously use it as a soundtrack to 5 fun filled days in the Big Apple; and I keep my fingers crossed that I will stumble on these 5 guys getting their groove on in a seedy bar when I’m in town.

Released June 19th 2018
http://bigappleblues.com/

Dharmasoul LIGHTNING KID

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Dharmasoul
LIGHTNING KID
self-release

A Grown Up Funky Alt. Jazz Hybrid to Sit Back and Savour.

You know us here at RMHQ, we have very eclectic musical tastes that defy most people’s imaginations, so when a CD arrived with a note attached describing the Duo/Band as ‘A funky Blues Groove from a Power-Folk duo with World Music, Hip-Hip, Blues and Rock influences’ how could we not give it a listen?
What’s the worst that could happen?
Wowza!
Opening track Chosen One certainly digs deep into every one of those influences; with more than a smattering of Funk and Blues too behind Jonah Tolchin’s sizzling guitar and Kevin Clifford’s spectacular tub-thumping as the band play on as if their lives depended on it. It’s not clear if it;s Jonah or Kevin singing; but here and on Bless Your Children which immediately follows there’s a distinct whiff of cool Blue Eyed Soul in that larynx.
Lost for words, all I can come up with for Taste So Sweet and Addiction is that they are the epitome of Cool; think some kind of weird hybrid between Lowell George, Jimmy Smith, Charlie Watts and a guitar duel between T Bone Walker and Jeff Beck!
Dharmasoul are both from New Jersey; but I can’t help but think this album was, or at least could have been recorded in New Orleans, Memphis or Muscle Shoals as there is a wonderful warm groove throughout that I normally associate with those fine musical cities; especially Open Your Heart and the gloriously meandering Love Again, which made me want to grab Mrs Magpie and slowly shuffle around the living room. (Thankfully I didn’t)
For a duo they certainly kick up a storm with the title track Lightning Kid, building up a dark and brooding sensory state that often threatens to boil over; but being the consummate professionals they are they tease the listener several times before a volcanic ending.
Favourite Track? Phew, that hasn’t been easy, mostly because every time I play the album something new grabs my attention and I want to choose that one for you; but tonight I’m plumping for Love Again because ….no no no……it’s got to be Armoured Hearts, one of two songs that subtly deal with Socio-Politics in such a clever and articulate manner you’d think someone like Randy Newman or James Taylor had a hand in the writing; but the didn’t.
I’ve not just thoroughly enjoyed this Grown Up album in the vein of Steely Dan or Barenaked Ladies; but been really impressed by it too, as just like discovering a New World wine there’s been a huge amount of fun thinking, “Aha…that bit….. comes from…..and ooh that guitar sounds like, or this bass lick is a probably from…..” but just like that glass of wine; you really should just sit back and flavour all of the constituent parts in all of their delicious glory.

Released 1st June 2018
https://www.dharmasoulband.com/

 

Miles Davis RUBBERBAND SESSIONS 12″ Single

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Miles Davis
RUBBERBAND SESSIONS 12″ Single
Rhino/Warner Music

A Masterclass in Phat, Funky and Sensual Grooves.

This is a bit of a dichotomy for me as in principal I’m totally against these ‘limited edition/special releases’ for Record Store Day, as these discs usually cost an arm and a leg and end up, unplayed in the collections of vinyl fetishists rather than being listened to by actual fans of the artiste involved; but hey; this amazing 4 track 12″ Single from Miles Davis is as Cool as a penguins bum and deserves a huge audience !
Over the last 40 years or so I’ve tried time and time again to ‘get into’ Jazz; but generally failed at the task but somehow only managing to fall in love with Acid-Jazz, Chet Baker and the main man himself Mr Miles Davis.
These four tracks though sound nothing like anything I’ve ever heard from the Miles before; one tune and a great big melody but four very different and very sensual and timeless re-mixes that are perfect for both ‘chilling’ and ‘smooching’ too.

In 1985, Miles Davis shocked the music world by moving from Columbia Records to Warner Bros. Records and started recording Rubberband at the Ameraycan Studios in Los Angeles from October 1985 to January 1986. A radical departure for him as it was made up with fat funk and dirty soul grooves and would to include vocals by Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan..

Sadly the album was subsequently shelved and Davis went on to record Tutu.

32 years after Rubberband was originally recorded, the original producers, Hall and Giles have teamed up with Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., to finish and update the title track.
In September 2017, they invited the 12-time Grammy-nominee soulful singer Ledisi, to guest on vocals at the Village Studios in Los Angeles.”

The cover artwork is a painting by Miles Davis.

Side A:
1 Rubberband Of Life featuring Ledisi (Radio Edit) 4:20
2 Rubberband Of Life featuring Ledisi 5:43

Side B:
1 Rubberband Of Life (Instrumental) 5:39
2 Rubberband (Original Version) 6:30

Released 21st April 2018

 

Mama SpanX STATE OF GROOVE

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Mama SpanX
STATE OF GROOVE
Self-Release

A Red Hot and Timeless Blend of Feisty Female Rhythm, Blues, Funk and S.O.U.L

This album has very nearly gone into the Oxfam box twice in recent weeks; not because it’s no good but simply because it arrived in October 2017 when Mrs Magpie was rushed into hospital and I didn’t do any reviews for a couple of months and the 2018 pile of CD’s is growing like Topsy every day.
But……this is far too good a record to give away and in my humble opinion deserves a much wider audience than the hirsute hipsters of Jesmondia near Newcastle.
First of all I’m not too sure I like the striking artwork on the album cover; but in it’s defence it does ‘sum up the contents’ extremely well! What you see is what you get……a red, hot and timeless mix of feisty female Rhythm, Blues, Funk and S.O.U.L
With no preconceptions at all, apart from trusting the PR who sent the disc……..my stomach spun like a turbo fan the first time I heard opening track ROCKET!
Oh Lordy Lord….everything I love about R&B and Soul Music is here…..and MORE! Nikki Armstrong aka Mama SpanX has a warm, velvety and expressive vocal style and her band The Spankers (ooh, err Missus!) Rock, Roll and Swing like a cross between The Swampers and Count Basie’s Big Band……and that’s only a slight exaggeration.
Seeing me making a cup of coffee earlier Mrs. Magpie giggled “What are you doing?” As I was shuffling my feet and actually ‘shaking my thang’ as Wild Emotion filtered out of the office speakers on the other side of the house. Caught in the act; I kept on dancing regardless of how silly I looked; it’s that good a song and too good an opportunity to miss, regardless of the location.
When she wasn’t watching I secretly danced again to the Funkylicious Being Beautiful and Alligator Boogaloo and then again on the title track State Of Groove; because that’s what this music is for……DANCING and you will too.
Mama SpanX can get low down and dirty too by the way; with Crawl and Thinkin’ being the sort of late night Bluesy/Soul crossover that is perfect for both seduction purposes and also crying your heart out into your beer when it all goes horribly wrong!
Before I get onto my ‘favourite track’ I have to heap copious praise on the Spankers; without whom this album wouldn’t be half as good….Harlan Spector’s keyboard playing is exceptional and holds the whole sound together and the horn section ….Steve Sadd and Julie Sax make a big, big sound worthy of the best in Memphis; and Ross Mullen on a six string fretless bass (?) alongside drummer David Abercrombie combine to create controlled thunder in the background while Steve Johnson provides virtual lightning on guitars throughout.
As I say I love the dance tunes here; but the two songs that tie for ‘favourite track status are the Power Ballad Wrong Side of the Garden; which is a thrill a minute and promises to be a guaranteed showstopper when sung live; yet the other finds Nikki Armstrong singing the lyrics to the heart breaking Anywhere You Are over a very gently played piano. Simple, yet emotionally destructive……just like Soul music should be.
Where do I start and stop comparing the Mama SpanX ‘sound’? Classic acts as diverse as Tina Turner, Nina Simone, Tower of Power and even Sly and the Family Stone sprung to mind at various times playing this record; but so did RMHQ Favourites the James Hunter Six and of course the late lamented Miss Sharon Jones of Daptone Records fame……and Mama SpanX and the Spankers could easily sit comfortably in any of that company.

Released October 31st 2017
http://www.mamaspanx.com

John Turrell – The Kingmaker (2013)

 

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John Turrell
The Kingmaker
Jalapeno Records

Northern Soul that’s full of  Northern Pride

John Turrell is the singer in Funky Groovesters Smoove and Turrell from Newcastle, England and has drawn comparisons with Jay K from Jamiroquai and Mick Hucknall from Simply Red; but on this his solo debut he draws from his roots to create a Soulful album that is full of raw Blues.

The album opens with a song about the futility of boring office work; To The City and the need to break free and has guitar breaks worthy of Prince at his best.

Wrong Time was released as a single earlier this year and it’s easy to see why it picked up National airplay with its Stax like bass lines and a Hammond organ that drives through the middle like finely tuned Aston Martin as Turrell pleads with the love of his life.

Day in Day Out is a piano let Blues tune comes from the very pits of the stomach and is another song that will resonate with anyone who is ‘office fodder’ and the title comes from a piece of graffiti painted on a footbridge that John had to slowly drive past every morning on his way to the drudgery of a 9-5 job; when he could only dream of a career in music.

Stella Maris is such a cool slice of funky Soul I had to check the sleeve-notes to see if it was a lost Stevie Wonder track; but it’s not. It is written by John’s own fair hand and that comes across in his voice as he honours the strong women in his family with a love song to them all.

With his band Smoove and Turrell as well as his side line the Fantasy Funk Band John has supported many great names and bands in the Soul; Funk and dance market including Chic whose influence is written right title track The Kingmaker making it a Supercool stomping Northern Soulful Bluesy tune.

The album ends with another slow burning Blues tune that has the Hammond at it’s core; Home about the temptations a man faces when out on the road; but mercifully Turrell appears to have left them behind him many years ago and now thinks of his daughters when the Devil appears on his shoulder.

With Charles Bradley and Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed forging a path for Soulful Blues; not unlike The Kingmaker I heartily recommend you to have a listen to John Turrell before he becomes too cool to like.

http://www.johnturrell.com

The Divide Music Company

Released UK September 9th 2013

Re-Released September 9th 2017

Henry Senior Jr. – Plates of Meat

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Henry Senior Jr.
Plates of Meat
Maiden Voyage Recording Co.

Hot Rats! Pedal-Steel Player Puts the Jazz Into Country-Funk.

I now own three instrumental albums; and all are by pedal-steel players. How bizarre is that? Or is it?
The other two are by the legendary Buddy Emmons and Bloodshot ‘go to guy’ Jon Rauhouse and both of those albums, like this debut album by Henry Senior Jr. from Danny & the Champions of the World are eclectic beyond belief and take my second favourite instrument* in the world into a whole new stratosphere.
Surprisingly enough; unless you know the people involved Plates of Meat is the first release on brand new label Maiden Voyage Recording Company; a collaboration between Danny George Wilson (from those Champions of the World) and Del Day, founder of Ark PR who promote a myriad of Roots and Americana act around the UK.
HEY, HO…enough about the history lesson.
This album of earthly delights opens with Green Fingers a delicious slice of British Funk….yes…F.U.N.K that nods in the direction of Booker T. Henry takes his pedal-steel on a journey that even Buddy Emmons would have worn a crash helmet for; and the electric piano that he run into time and time again, is simply wonderful.
That soulful funky mood continues over the next couple of tracks, especially Goodbye Bowler Hat and Better Left Unsaid, with Champions Sax player extraordinaire ‘Free Jazz’ Geoff Widowson taking the lead and taking the album down a Hot Rats era Frank Zappa path…..and by golly, gosh it sounds as exciting as a series of electric shocks.
Not everything is quite so left of centre, Senior Jr. does let his Country Roots show on occasion with Cat Doggin’ swinging into town straight outta some Oklahoma Honky Tonk, and In The Presence of Namaqua sounding like something Tarantino would use on a Spaghetti Western soundtrack as Henry goes all Technicolour.
I don’t really know why, but I simply love Along Came Molly and the title track Plates of Meat which keep that Funky beat going, and either could and should be the theme tune to any remake of the TV Cop Drama The Sweeney (or Miami Vice or NYPD Blue or…..).
Well, Plates of Meat is different, very different from the normal fair I listen to and review but is now worthy of a place in my ‘special drawer’ in the office alongside my Chet Baker, Jon Rauhouse, Augustus Pablo, Nick Pride and of course Hot Rats CD’s for emergency use when my musical brain needs a detox.

http://www.maidenvoyage.net

Released 9th October 2016
*my favourite instrument is the harmonica btw.

Michael Kiwanuka – Wylam Brewery, Newcastle

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Michael Kiwanuka
Wylam Brewery, Newcastle
8th October 2016.

Rising star Isaac Gracie opened the night at one of Newcastle’s newest music venues, the Wylam Brewery, in a room already near capacity. It was Gracie’s third visit to the North East having already played small venues like Tynemouth’s Surf Café and it seems word has got out about the young Londoner. Although the crowd was very talkative; it seemed to be about how impressive Gracie was; as he delivered songs such as Terrified and Last Words to loud whistles of approval.

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By the time Michael Kiwanuka hit the stage there is hardly room to move, as this gig was a sell-out, with plenty of people outside offering above the odds for tickets. It literally was the hottest ticket in town with the tallest man in the room standing at the very front.

July saw the release of Kiwanuka’s Mercury Prize nominated second album Love & Hate and tonight was a celebration of that album, with first track Cold Little Heart including the long haunting introduction which silenced the crowd so you could probably hear a pin drop, opening the show tonight. As we got into the third number of Tell Me A Tale from his debut album Home Again, the band were slowly building up the tempo; but there was no room for dancing – only swaying – as sweat dripped not just from the beard of Michael but the packed audience too.
As he introduced the single Black Man In A White World Michael encouraged everyone to clap along and the crowd willingly joined in alongside the funkiest number of the evening.

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Kiwanuka was not just to play music but actually share it; but unfortunately he was put off by an avid photographer continuously shooting within touching distance of the singer. Being humble and professional offered an apology not just once but as the show carried on, which was appreciated by the crowd as they felt his emotions too. In fact, bar the few talkers in the audience, the night was quite spellbinding by the time we reached Father’s Child during which Kiwanuka left the stage; but the audience was still captivated as each member of the band took it in turn to slowly leave the room one by one.

When Michael and the band returned to the stage they couldn’t stop thanking us for being there. We were then told that there were still a few numbers left to do including a cover, which he felt appropriate with 2016 having been a ‘pretty shitty year.’
The lights changed to purple as Kiwanuka covered Prince’s ‘Sometimes It Snows In April.’ A very touching rendition indeed, leading to a few grown men around me actually shedding a tear. The performance would definitely have had Prince dancing in the purple light. The mood remained the same as the evening ended with Love & Hate, fittingly with the lyrics, “calling all the people here to see the show…give me something wonderful.”
Minus a few noted mishaps and even being a bit ‘too close’ to other gig goers, it truly was a special and wonderful night in an amazing venue.
Courtesy Guest Reviewer Victoria Ling

Photos courtesy http://137imaging.co.uk

Nick Pride & The Pimptones – Hoochie Coochie Bar, Newcastle.

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Nick Pride & The Pimptones
Hoochie Coochie Bar, Newcastle.

Friday 10th June 2016.

The new ‘day job’ is causing havoc with my social life; especially gig going. The random shift pattern means I’ve had to cancel 5 gigs with only 24hrs notice recently; but just like Newcastle Busses two came along at once; and they couldn’t have been more different.
The second was local Jazz-Soul legends Nick Pride & The Pimptones launching their fabulous new album Go Deep at the even more fabulous Hoochie Coochie Bar in Downtown Newcastle Upon Tyne on a Friday night.
Unable to find a spare seat at an hour before they were due on stage (in fairness the bar is primarily geared up to DANCING) I found a secretive spot at the side of the stage where I wouldn’t bother anyone.
Bar owner played an eclectic mix of rare Dance tunes as a warm up; so quite a few of the exceptionally large audience were already sweatily excited when the Pimptones made there resplendent entrance at 9.15 on the dot.
An excitedly nervous Nick Pride greeted the crowd before the band glided into a series of instrumentals (Rejuiced Phat Shake, Come and Get It, Soul Food Strut, Hit the Love Button and White Lines) which showcased their collective musical talents in a stunning 10 minute spell; with each one being noticeably different from the previous tune and merging Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop and even a little bit of Bluebeat (Ska) just for the Hell of it.
By the time regular guest singer and now ‘official Pimptone’ Beth Macari made her entrance the packed crowd had surged forward but 15 or 16 were somehow managing to dance their little socks off.
The flame haired Beth immediately showed why she is being talked about in the ‘right circles’ with a sultry version of Lay It On; before totally blowing the crowd away with Love Thing; which even had my hips shaking and feet shuffling as I dived intermittently between dancers to take photos.
Even though they were predominately showcasing songs from the new album; every song sounded like they had known them for ever; judging by the looks on the packed crowd; which spanned the age divide from, uber-cool teenage hipsters, through young Mums on a rare night out to the Hoochie Coochie’s regular crowd of ‘mature night-clubbers’ who never grew up.
If you’ve read my review of Go Deep you will know I love it; but the added thrill of playing live made Go Deep even sultrier than on vinyl and Give It To Me became a right Royal slice of Funktastic Goodness.
If the recent 45 RPM single, Gotta Leave the Lady Alone had been recorded by Sharon Jones or Amy Winehouse would have had the London critics drooling; and tonight’s version simply sizzled with excitement, sending shivers up my spine.

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One of my favourite songs, Everything’s Better in the Summertime, was just that tonight with two beauty’s immediately following – Put Your Arms Around Me and Mrs. Magpies’ favourite What The Heart Wants.
While most things revolved around the pocket dynamo Macari, the rakishly handsome Nick Pride himself plays a mean Jazz guitar; reminiscent of George Benson and even Wes Montgomery at times; plus bass player Ian ‘Dodge’ Patterson; who ‘lived’ every note he played and drummer Oscar Cassidy provided a powerhouse rhythm section allowing new saxophonist Alex Saxon free reign and founder member KB Nicholson to give a Masterclass on trumpet and come very close to ‘stealing the show’ from Nick and Beth.
The hour and 15 minutes went by in the blink of an eye and of course an obligatory encore was called for with the band responding with Put Your Arms Around me, much to the fans delight; so much so a second encore was loudly demanded; taking the band (and me) by surprise; and after a hastily convened conference an oldie but goodie, Hex On My Soul was delivered with great aplomb and finally left the 200 or more souls packed into the Hoochie Coochie Bar, satisfied and smiling their little faces off.
Making Beth Macari now their permanent singer really rounds off the Pimptones ‘sound;’ and vice-versa as Nick and the lads certainly appeared to bring the very best out in Geordieland’s answer to Amy Winehouse!

 

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http://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Nick-Pride-and-the-Pimptones

Kaz Hawkins Band – Feelin’ Good

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Kaz Hawkins Band
Feelin’ Good

Self-Release

Hallelujah! The Irish Queen of the Blues Delivers Her Masterpiece.

After seeing Kaz ‘steal the show’ at the inaugural Belfast Skyline Festival a few years ago; and then falling in love with her Get Ready! Album in 2015 nothing, I repeat nothing prepared me for how I felt the first night I played this album.
Although I disagreed with a few people last year; I can see why Kaz Hawkins could or indeed was labelled as a Blues ‘Shouter’ in the vein of Janis Joplin or possibly even Same Maggie Bell; but Lordy there is so much more to her here.
The album opens with a live and raw Gospel song called Pray that will set the hair on the back of your neck on end.
Just as you get your breath back some of the funkiest guitar and bass glide out of the speakers before Ms. Hawkins delivers a vocal performance of epic proportions on the bittersweet It Ain’t You; making me put down my magazine and seriously concentrate; while my dancing shoes took on a life of their own.
While not exactly made ‘on a shoestring’ Feelin’ Good has a fabulous ‘sound’ to it; making me think it could easily have been made in Muscle Shoals or the like; back in the day when budgets were never ending.
WOW! From start to finish the title track Feelin’ Good is ‘epic,’ with Kaz and band coming together to create a sound akin to Etta James fronting Blind Faith on a Friday night. Powerful stuff indeed.
Then; the Funk is back with Don’t Run Away; a cracking song full of crackling guitar and some bass lines that Nile Rodgers would be proud of.
Then; Kaz immediately afterwards breaks your heart with the lyrically acute and emotionally brittle Because You Love Me; proving that there are definitely a lot more strings to her bow than just ‘The Blues.’
By the way; Kaz Hawkins has Soul with a capital S…..take a listen to Soul Superstar or the autobiographical This Is Me and tell me you don’t think this lady is from Memphis or Chicago and downtown Belfast, Northern Ireland. Go on; I dare you.
Just like in the olden days, Feelin’ Good is an ‘album’ in all its glory; with every song here on its own merits; but as is my won’t I have to pick a ‘best in show’ and it’s not an easy thing to do; but I will toss a coin; ‘heads’ for the Rocking and Rolling and ball breaking Belfast Town; and ‘tails’ for Kaz’s reinterpretation of the ever wonderful I Just Wanna Make Love to You; giving it a 21st Century makeover and will no doubt be a highlight; if not a showstopper when Kaz takes the show on the road.
Seriously; if you like Beth Hart, Susan Teduschi, or Janis, Maggie and Dusty you are gonna love this album. Trust me.

http://kazhawkins.com/

Released May 28th 2016

#PS This is a CD ONLY release; with no digital downloads available (which is a good thing!)