Reviews roundup – Wendy DeWitt vs. Thirsty Mamas vs. Dice vs. Berdon Kirksaether vs. Na2ral Born Killers
WENDY DeWITT with Kirk Harwood
This is a rather enjoyable set of traditional yet original blues, courtesy of piano player Wendy DeWittr and drummer Kirk Harwood. The setup means they need to rely on the strength of the songs, as there is nowhere to hide. And they, largely, manage this.
There are a couple of cover tunes, as well as appearances from a horn section, and guests of the calibre of bassist Steve Evans (Roy Rogers, Ray Manzarek) and Steve Fruend (Sunnyland Slim, Koko Taylor, Hubert Sumlin, everyone), but it remains very much the duos album.
The piano leads the way on this, their third album, and if you like to hear some boogie woogie piano to the fore, then you’re going to enjoy the likes of ‘Sonoma County’ (where my cousin Karin lives. Hello there!) and ‘Trouble Is Out To Get Me!’. A good one.
I’ve Been Down
Off to Hamburg in Germany now to meet the Thirsty Mamas, a blues rock combo who’ve been raising the roof down in the Hanseatic League since 2006. They make the kind of noise that will raise the roof in a sweaty, below ground club, and even though this is a fun CD, you can’t help but feel it would make a better, drunken night out.
They certainly make a fine racket, in a manner similar to the late, lamented Red Devils (the band, not the footie team), and manage to turn in a splendid version of the Depeche Mode tune, ‘Personal Jesus’ that makes Marilyn Manson seem lightweight in comparison.
Elsewhere, tunes like ‘Kick Out The Jams (Highway Man)’ and ‘Wine, Whiskey And Women’ just make you long for a bottle of Bucky. In a good way.
Son Sister Sun
Still in Germany, but we’re off to Leipzig for the twenty first (21st!) album from German prog legends Dice.
And in finest prog tradition, the 18th instalment of the Dreamscene series appears here, via the title track. Although you’ll need to buy a hundred other Dice albums to follow the story. But it’s a good record, which sees them sticking to their melodic, seventies prog roots, on an album which “weaves together thoughts and dreams that all start and end with the sun”. So there.
They amble into space rock territory in a couple of places, but if you’ve liked what Dice have done in the past, then there is absolutely no reason, why you won’t like what they’ve done in the present. Bestg for me was the ten minutes spent in the company of ‘Being A Whispered Wind’. Nice, very nice.
BERDON KIRKSAETHER & The Twang Bar Kings
The Voodoo Sessions: Live at Down Under
We’re leaving Germany behind, and taking course across the Skagerrak for some Norwegian blues rock. And it’s a mighty fine EP from Norwegian blues stalwart Berdon Kirksaether and his delightfully named band, The Twang Bar Kings.
As the name implies, this is a live EP, which sees Berdon kicking some serious blues ass in seventies style. You can tell where he is coming from via track three, the sole cover, which is a splendid version of the Robin Trower tune ‘Mad House’. And you’ll excuse me if I pause for a moment and tip my hat to the late, great James Dewar.
His band – Erik Gabrielsen on guitar and vocal, Roy Hanssen on drums and vocals and Stein Tumert on bass and vocals, lock together in fine style, with the closing tune, ‘When The Moon Is On The Rise’ a song that fans of the style, simply have to hear.
NA2RAL BORN KILLERS
Journey with me, into the mind of a maniac, doomed to be a killer since I came out the nutsac. Oh, hang on. It’s not Natural Born Killaz. It’s Na2ral Born Killers. My mistake. So it’s farewell to Dr. Dre (not a real doctor) and Ice Cube, and hello to the Italian band of not the same name.
They formed back in 2009, and got some early exposure on an MTV New Generation thing. They’re basically working away in a modern rock meets metal idiom, the kind of thing that fans of Foo Fighters and Alter Bridge would be comfortable with. So, it’s not my cup of tea, but the band, fronted by the strong vocals of Helena, have enough tucked away to make them worthy of interest.
The 20 minute EP doesn’t outstay its welcome, and if you want to stream before you buy, then check out ‘Always and Forever’, the best of the bunch.