Reviews roundup – The Handful vs. Sky High vs. Smoky Greenwell vs. Dave Weld
Sons of Downtown
Sadly not a tribute to the late, lamented Downton Abbey, this is instead album number four from a handful (hah!) of music veterans who have taken it upon themselves to bash out some classic, seventies style hard rock. And it’s a real treat.
It’s also the second album I’ve heard this week, after The Lizards, to feature some sterling drum work from Bobby Rondinelli (Blue Oyster Cult, Rainbow, Black Sabbath). So, a good weeks listening.
The main men in the band are Mark Duda (lead vocals, guitar) and Jason Mischel (bass guitar, drums, keyboards), here augmented by the aforementioned Mr Rondinelli and Jimi K. Bones on guitar (Joan Jett, Blondie, Skin n’ Bones, Hank Williams, Jr.). Add in some guest appearances by Pat Travers (The Pat Travers Band), Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys), Cherie Currie (The Runaways) and Teddy Rondinelli (Vanilla Fudge), and it’s an old rocker wet dream.
Thankfully, the songs do them justice and their mix of classic rock, near metal and pop is a fine listen, with songs like ‘Meet Our Maker’, ‘Gods Of War’ and ‘Last Man Standing’ good enough to merit a place on self-respecting rawkers playlist. Check this one out.
Stone & Gravel
Off to Sweden for the seventeenth (!) album from blues rock veterans Sky High, led by singer / guitarist Clas Yngström.
And if you want to know where they’re coming from, then check out the sole cover version on this 12 track album. That’s ‘One Step Back’, a Billy Gibbons / Jerry Williams co-write that first appeared on a Dave Edmunds album.
Yep, it’s seventies blues rock, performed by a fiery power trio. Just the way I like it (uhu, uhu). There’s plenty of boogie, some cracking blue shufflers and some powerful guitar rock with some memorable tunes including ‘Pretty Young Women (And Dirty Old Men)’ [koff], ‘A New Old Style (Old Farts Boogie)’ and ‘Rolla Rollin Ma’. The only thing that annoys me is that it took me seventeen albums to hear them for the first time.
SMOKY GREENWELL’S NEW ORLEANS BLUES JAM
Live At The Old US Mint
Louisiana blues veteran Smoky Greenwell has been working the clubs since the seventies, and has got nine studio albums to his name. This unwieldy title record is, however, his first live set.
He’s got some pedigree having been in War, and played with Warren Haynes, back in the day, and he certainly dishes up a fine blues stew on this set. Thing is, though, I’m not a huge fan of his vocals, so it’s when guests like Mark Pentone take the mic that my dander is raised.
There are some choice tunes, though, with ‘I Earned The Right To Sing The Blues’, ‘Love’s Gone’ and ‘Between Iraq And A Hard Place’ taking top spot for me. Those, and a cracking run through the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme tune. It’s a fun listen and a solid live experience.
DAVE WELD & THE IMPERIAL FLAMES
Slip Into A Dream
Don’t come here if you’re looking for something smooth and easy, because that’s not what Dave Weld does. No, what he does is genuine houserockin’ music. Raw and ragged, and all the better for it.
On his second Delmark CD, his basic band is augmented by Bobby Rush, Greg Guy and Sax Gordon, but it remains very much the Dave Weld show as he blasts through some raucous blues rock. You can tell that he’s grounded in the music of J.B. Hutto and Hound Dog Taylor, whipping up a storm on a great CD.
It’s hard to pick a highlight, as this is just how I like my blues, but ‘May Be Right, May Be Wrong’, ‘Louise’ and the J.B. Hutto cover of ‘20% Alcohol’ are just about as good as it gets. Essential blues listening.