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Albums reviews

JOE CASTELLANO Soul Land Blues Promotion

This is a live double album from Joe Castellano’s Super Blues and Soul Band with 14 special guests (too numerous to mention). ‘Super’ is the right adjective to describe this band. The gig is a blues and soul evening and covers most genres.

Proud Mary (Creedance Clearwater); Tell Mama (Eta James); I Wish (Stevie Wonder); Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On; Dave Mason’s Feeling Alright; Bad Girls (Donna Summer); Lady Marmerlade; Solomon Burke’s Everybody Needs Somebody to Love; the list is endless. There are eight Joe Costellano compositions which could become soul classics in their own right. The Bob Marley / Eric opus I Shot the Sheriff is a masterpiece. Over two hours of full on big band R&B sound. Absolute heaven, if this is where you’re at. I highly recommend it. Bob Bonsey

JOHN THE CONQUEROR John The Conqueror Alive Natural Sound

Philadelphia’s John The Conqueror are cousins Pierre Moore (gtr/vox), and Michael Gardner (drums), with bassist Ryan Lynn.

They bring a very familiar blues/rock sound at you, full throttle. Opener, I Just Wanna is preceded by 45 seconds of handclaps before a full on blues explosion with its pleading chorus, pumping right into track 2, Southern Boy. This is when the instruments start sparkling, Moore’s vocals hit full volume and the band completely groove. Even though the record stays in a similar vein throughout, the band shakes things up with subtle tweaks that enhance the flow. Songs like the swaying 5, Time to Go pays more of a tribute to Muddy Waters, while 8, Letter of Intervention showcases a blend of darker, slow rhythms and group sing-alongs that make an album highlight. John The

Conqueror have not set out to invent the wheel, but this debut is dependable, solid and timeless. It has all the ingredients you want and thanks, perhaps, to the Black Keys, there is an audience out there for their style. Clive Rawlings.

JOHN HIATT Mystic Pinbal New West Records

Indiana born singer/ songwriter who has been around for over 30 years and whose songs have often been covered with some success by other artists including Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, BB King, Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson.This album builds on the worldwide success of Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns and is also produced by Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley (Joe Bonamassa and Aerosmith etc.). Opener We’re Alright Now is a melodic Blues/ rocker which features Hiatt’s trademark raspy vocals and great harmonies and is driven along by twangy Nashville guitars and a clattering snare drum. Great driving music – put the hood down and head for Route 66. Or, in my case, the A35 to Lytchett Matravers.The mid-tempo Bite Marks is a Stones-style rocker with typically tough lyrics spiced with a dash of humour and pathos. Tough love indeed. It All Comes Back Someday reminded me of our own long lost pub-rocker Graham Parker featuring those soulful sandpaper vocal chords. The pace drops for the black humour of Wood Chipper which features twangy and atmospheric guitar from Doug Lancio as Hiatt relates his dark tale. Nick Cave eat your heart out! The crunching straightforward rock of My Business is followed by the gentle and gorgeous ballad I Just Don’t Know What To Say. There is a country rock feel to the melodic guitar on the Byrds tinged Give It Up and a great acoustic ballad with No Wicked Grin which features bass fiddle from Patrick O’Hearn. The album closes with Blues Can’t Even Find Me featuring superb dobro and mandolin from Lancio as Hiatt tells his tale of living in a trapped relationship.This man is a great story teller and this album is packed with good songs, lyrical and witty word-play, strong vocals and the musicianship is first class. Dave Drury

JULIAN FAUTH Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right Electro Fi Records

Julian Fauth is most definitely an accomplished blues singer/writer, combining strong lyrics with more than a hint of biblical references in a clever and artful way that have been applied with a modern twist as demonstrated on Track 4, Requiem where Bill Gates, Bankers and Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned, a very clever song with a the beat of French quarter New Orleans and Julian’s voice is deep and melodic but is not the strongest element of this accomplished musicians package. The title track does not disappoint and the highlights are Track 11 Angelique with its bluegrass feel and Track 14, a great interpretation of the traditional Rolling and Tumbling. This is a gem of an album that refuses to be pigeon-holed, where every track is strong, with a different twist showcasing all the passion that Julian puts into his piano and guitar playing, and interesting rearrangements adding so much to this eclectic CD. Liz Aiken

JULIAN SAS Bound to Rol Cavalier

Julian Sas is well respected in Europe with seven CDs in his catalogue but not well known in this country. This album should change that. The opening track Life on the Line sets off at a tremendous pace with a guitar riff reminiscent of Walter Trout. Mercy has a wah wah guitar sound (really lovely stuff); the title track Bound to Roll has a real boogie feel. This album is definitely for guitar freaks (I mean that in the nicest possible way). Wonderful tunes with stunning solos. Julian puts his stamp on Rory’s Shadowplay (not an easy thing to do);

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b lu es matters! | fe bruary–march 2013