Reviews roundup – Little Charlie & Organ Grinder Swing vs. Electric Fence vs. The Lucky Losers vs. Armonite vs. The Paul DesLauriers Band
LITTLE CHARLIE & ORGAN GRINDER SWING
This Little Charlie is the same Little Charlie who’s been fronting, um, Little Charlie and the Nightcats for a quarter of a century. Which is a lot of Little Charlie. However, he’s always had a yen for some jazz, and that’s where he and his former Nightcat band mates, Lorenzo Farrell on Hammond organ and J. Hansen on drums and percussion have ended up on this record.
And it’s a good one. It sees looking back to the days of swing, the Quintette du Hot Club de France, big band and some of his own blues on a vibrant set. It’s mainly covers, with just the three originals, but when they take on well known standards like “How High The Moon” and “Pennies From Heaven” that you get a real feel for the music they love.
There’s also room for music from the Modern Jazz Quartet and Charlie Christian, as well as a Benny Goodman romp, but they never veer over into the world of the unlistenable, as the melody remains king. It’s a sidestep, but a very enjoyable one.
Well I know that Spain is a long way South from where I’m sitting, but it never crossed my mind that they would be into Southern rock. But here come Electric Fence to put matters to right.
Because, yes, they are a band who’re looking longingly across the Atlantic to a mythical time when Lynyrd Skynyrd begat Molly Hatchet and they’ve taken their cues back to Spain and given into a 21st century rock burnish. They’ve played shows with the likes of Blackberry Smoke, so they’ve had the chance to witness the vibe first hand, and they’ve made a fair fist of their own music.
They certainly make a righteous noise, as the bring in sounds from The Black Crowes, Skynyrd, ZZ Top etc, and add some hard rock of their own to tunes like “Red Moon Eclipse”, “Black Widow” and the pure AC/DC of “Turn It On”. A blast of southern rock’n’roll fun.
THE LUCKY LOSERS
In Any Town
Dirty Cat Records
They’re not hanging about, are The Lucky Losers, with this hot on the tail of ‘A Winning Hand’, which came out last year. I reckoned then that the Lucky Losers( Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowit) were onto a winner, saying “this is a great play, and one that old school blues / soul crossover fans should buy immediately”.
And I was right. So I’m glad to report that ‘In Any Town’ is more of the same. It’s still an old fashioned blues and soul crossover, with a timeless sound from back in the day, but it doesn’t matter when the songs are good and the performances match them.
It’s a mix of mainly originals with a couple of covers thrown in, with the best of the former being “Give Me A Sign, with Jeff Jensen guesting on guitar, and the latter sees a great version of the Carter / Cash classic “Jackson”.
They can take on soul, country blues and all points inbetween, and end up with a winning hand. A really enjoyable album.
The Sun Is New Each Day
Off to Italy now for some progressive rock, courtesy of Armonite. They started life back in 1996 and released their debut album in 1999. They then vanished for twenty five years, possibly to the lost world of Agharta before reappearing in 2014.
Paolo Fosso (keyboards) and Jacopo Bigi (electric violin) are the mainstays of the band, and for their not at all long awaited second album, they’ve brought in bassist Colin Edwin (from Porcupine Tree) and Dutch drummer Jasper Barendregt with some additional cello from Marcello Rosa.
And it’s instrumental prog of the highest order, which looks back to the melodic prog of the seventies as well as their Italian predecessors PFM. It’s rather nice to hear an album not dripping with guitar, as the lead violin and keyboard interplay is excellent on tunes such as “Suitcase War” and “Die Grauen Herren”. An exemplary prog rock release.
THE PAUL DESLAURIERS BAND
Big Toe Production
Back to the blues for our final turn around the block today, and it’s off to the Canadian colonies and album number two from The Paul DesLauriers Band.
They like to rock their blues, and their self titled debut saw them reaping awards right, left and centre. And if this is anything to go by, then it’s no surprise. It’s a lively and vibrant recording, no doubt helped by the fact that the trio record the music by playing live in the studio. Something that really gives it an organic feel.
But it wouldn’t matter if the songs were shite. They’re not, and there is a lot to love in the grooves of “Ten Feet Tall”, “I’m Your Man” and “If I Still Had You”. It’s powerful stuff which looks back to the heavy blues rock of the seventies but without being an exercise in pure retro. It’s solid and in your face, so if you’re looking for something to groove along to, give it a go.