Reviews roundup – Foghat vs. Ian Hunter vs. James ‘Buddy’ Rogers vs. The McKee Brothers vs. The Lucid Dream
Under The Influence
Of course like a lot of old timers out on the road there aren’t many original members left in Foghat. In this case it’s drummer Roger Earl whose been driving the rhythm since 1971. However they’re not short on quality with former Molly Hatchet man Bryan Bassett on lead guitar (1999–present) and Charlie Huhn (ex Ted Nugent) on rhythm guitar and vocals since 2000.
It’s their first studio release in six years following on from ‘Last Train Home’ and sees them still kicking up a fine boogie storm. There’s a lot of new material here which stands up against some of their prime time music with songs like “Knock It Off”, “Hot Mama” and “Honey Do List” amongst the best.
They also find time to revisit a couple of Savoy Brown tracks, which was whence the original Foghat sprang and even get Kim Simmonds to make an appearance on guitar. There is also a high octane romp through their own “Slow Ride” which sees Nick Jameson popping back into Foghat to play bass.
Now I’ll admit that I love classic Foghat so I’m a hard man to please, but this is so much better than I’d hoped. It’s certainly the best thing they’ve put their name to since ‘Stone Blue’ away back in the dark ages. It sounds fantastic, no doubt helped by producer Tom Hambridge (who has worked with Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Thorogood and others). For sure, there are a couple of fillers midway through but that aside it’s a killer.
They may be long in the tooth but on this form they can kick ass better than any young pretenders to the blues rock throne. The best blues rock album of the year.
IAN HUNTER & The Rant Band
All of the interest in this album seems to be geared towards “Dandy”, whereby seventy seven year old Ian Hunter pays tribute to David Bowie. Fair enough considering he probably owes his career to the dead white Duke but it’s actually a bit too pastiche like and one of the lesser tracks here.
Because this is actually one of the better albums Mr Hunter has punted out over the years. Now that’s probably down to the fact that he’s managed to raise himself from a torpor and there are more chirpy tracks here than he’s managed in many a year. The opening “That’s When the Trouble Starts” channels some Keith Richards riffs and is one of his most enjoyable songs in a long while.
Elsewhere he’s still going for that rootsy Americana style vibe which has led to a lot of his songs sounding the same but of the ones on offer “Ghosts” is a definite highlight. The one clunker is “You Can’t Live in the Past” which has some good lyrics but a terrible tune. The title track is another treat where Mr Hunter sings about being pressganged into the navy back in the 18th century despite being fractionally too young for that.
It’s a good, above average release from Mr Hunter and one of his best in a long while.
JAMES ‘BUDDY’ ROGERS
By My Side
The Canadian colonies now and the fourth album from James ‘Buddy’ Rogers, a blues rocker who got a Juno nomination for his last album ‘My Guitar’s My Only Friend’. Which is a proper name for a blues album!
He started playing the blues at an early age and by age thirteen he was already playing local shows before graduating to band leader with Texas Storm at the grand old age of fifteen. After that he went on tour for five years with former BB King sidemand Russell Jackson so there is absolutely no doubting that he has got the chops.
He then went back to being a bandleader and since 2000 has been been touring and recording through Canada and Europe. His basic trio of bassist Mike Wedge and drummer James Badger do a bang up job of supporting him here, with the recordings augmented by some additional keyboards and percussion. And there are some excellent tunes here to keep you entertained.
The title track, “Can’t Get You Off My Mind”, “Goin’ Down” and “Hell To Pay” are top notch blues rock offering and I’m sure the Juno Awards will be knocking at his door again.
THE McKEE BROTHERS
Enjoy It While You Can
A bit of an odd cove this one. The McKee Brothers have been playing music for over 35 years but managed to avoid performing together for most of that time. And even this album took 15 years to put together with four of the tracks dating back to 2001.
But it holds together well as an album which is surprising considering that there are also two dozen musicians involved. It does help that Bob Shultz who sings eleven of the thirteen songs has a fabulous voice. There are also guest turns from guitarists Larry McCray and Kirk Fletcher and a horn section led by former Tower of Power man Lee Thornburg. So quality abounds.
In amongst some excellent original material there are also some excellent covers including Dr. John’s “Qualified”, “It All Went Down The Drain” by Earl King and the closing ballad “Up To The Mountain” by Patty Griffin. The mix up their blues with some fine and funky arrangements and the whole record just reeks of class.
It may have taken forever to put this record together but the end result makes it all worth while.
THE LUCID DREAM
Holy Are You
To Cumbria and ‘Compulsion Songs’ the third album from Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream. And they are leading lights of the new UK psych movement. Now for those of you who don’t know, modern psych hasn’t that much in common with the sixties, preferring to add in some drone and shoegaze style to the original multicolour format.
As such The Lucid Dream pull it off well. So what you’re getting is a paisley patterned garage band who tend to be quite rough around the edges. More Julian Cope than Tintern Abbey. There is certainly a lot of clattering going on with tunes like “Bad Texan” and “I’m A Star In My Own Right” but when they make some adjustments they can make a fine noise.
That would be the likes of “The Emptiest Place” and “Epitaph” where they build to up a sound that is all their own combining an array of pasts and presents. They make look like a bunch of dodgy scallies looking to sell you some knock off Nike but musically they should be heading for the big time.