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Blues Round-up: January 2013

Henry Yates on new releases from Andre Williams, Otis Grand, B.B. King, John The Conqueror and The Geoff Everett Band

Andre Williams: Life

Teaming up with The Sadies for Night And Day certainly agreed with Andre ‘Bacon Fat‘ Williams, and now – reasoning that “I don’t want to go to heaven broke” – the 76-year-old returns for another release in 2012, this time under his own steam. Safe to say, broke or otherwise, Williams is unlikely to make the cut for heaven. Dressed like a dissolute Charlie Chaplin, with a face like a leering dishcloth, he’s always been a rascal on the lyric sheet. While life can’t top the aforementioned release for couplets, his alternating threats (Don’t Kick My Dog), come-ons (Heels) and satire (Blame It On Obama), all muttered in a voice like he’s chewing tobacco, are great fun. Likewise, while the all-original music on this album doesn’t quite have the same heads-down, lo-fi throttle of Night And Day, it’s all relative, and when Williams really hits his stride – such as on the spacey fuzz-blues of But’n, and the punked-up riot of his own classic Shake A Tail Feather – he leaves the cubs eating his dust. (810)

Otis Grand: Blues ’65

A love letter to Grand’s youth – the sleeve lists the political events, pop hits and price of bread in 1965 – Blues ’65 manages to be both nostalgic and current, with new originals like The Shag Shuffle sounding like they could crackle through the wireless radio of a housewife. It’s punchy stuff, with Grand sparing the solos and serving up a rug-cutting stomp on Pretend. (710)

B.B. King: The Life Of Riley Soundtrack

Jon Brewer’s Life Of Riley documentary gave us the man; this tie-in release reminds us of the music. There are, inevitably, certain boxes that have to be ticked, but while even King’s fairweather subjects will own the Live At The Regal tracks and The Thrill Is Gone in some form, live 70s runouts in Africa and Australia find those magic fingers on equally sweet form. (610)

John The Conqueror: John The Conqueror

From I Just Wanna’s opening handclaps and circular chain-gang chant, John The Conqueror plant their flag as yet another superior gaggle of roughhouse US bluesers from label-of-the-moment Alive. This lot have a grubby thump and a handful of great tunes, of which Lucille and Southern Boy are the best. You’ll be hearing more from them. (710)

The Geoff Everett Band: The Quick And The Dead

Veteran Everett is a writer with hooks, dynamics and lightbulbs popping over his head, and on this unfussy collection, he mixes up Stonesy belters like If You Can’t Fight (Wear A Big Hat) with the superior shuffle of Too Big For Your Boots. The collective pedigree of the band, meanwhile, is belief-beggaring. (710)