Blues Round-up: April 2012

Henry Yates on new releases from Otis Taylor, Buffalo Summer, The Jimmy Bowskill Band, Bare Bones Boogie Band and Danny Bryant’s Redeyeband

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Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor’s Contraband

You people don’t listen. Year after year, album after album, this blues column illustrates in painstaking detail why Otis Taylor should be a real, proper star, and enjoy your blanket patronage. Yet here we are again with Contraband: another killer release that will probably be heard by relatively few, though loved by every last one of them. In fairness, Taylor doesn’t always help himself. We’ve noted in the past how his material can be a little hypnotic, slow-burning and lacking in gearshifts – not so much verse/chorus as verse/verse/verse – and that’s true at points here, with cuts like Yell Your Name essentially comprising the song title repeated for four minutes. But as ever with Taylor, the music is kept on track by the mood, the soul, the counter-melody parps of brass and elegant strings, and above all, that voice: a one-off vocal so lovelorn and lived-in that it makes Mark Lanegan sound like Melinda Messenger at a helium party. This is the album that will push him over the edge. You watch. (810)

Buffalo Summer: Buffalo Summer

You remember Lethargy: the promising young Welshmen were among the first batch of Powerage signings, and their de facto leader Andy Hunt has taken most of their blood and thunder into this bluesier and better-named outfit. They’ve also ditched a bit of the angst, which is no bad thing, and sprinkled on a fair bit more chest-hair, which is fine too. And with cuts as good as Down To The River, this side-project might just end up overpowering the day job. (710)

The Jimmy Bowskill Band: Back Number

Five albums down, and Bowskill is inexplicably still only 21 – but you wouldn’t think it from his assured touch and throaty vocal. There’s a bit of a slow start with Take A Ride, but Linger On The Sweet Side sets the tone in style, grooving like the Stones before they got too arthritic, and practically forcing you to go out and find a Chevy steering wheel to tap. (710)

Bare Bones Boogie Band: Bare Bones Boogie Band

Labels and album titles still elude them, but on release #2, the BBBB are getting handy in the studio, with Iain Black’s original material like Midnight O2 setting up Helen Turner to sandblast her brilliant vocals all over it. They’ve always been the sound of a great night out, but you don’t need beer goggles to enjoy this one. (610)

Danny Bryant’s Redeyeband: Night Life: Live In Holland

As an unabashed student of the British blues boom and confirmed Clapton-o-phile, Bryant has the kind of magic fingers that ensure the long solo sections on this live disc keep you teetering on the edge of your seat. Ironically, the best bit arrives as he reaches the epic 12-minute finale Always With Me and loses a little control, freaking out on the fretboard with unpredictably thrilling results. (710)

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.