Blues Round-up: October 2010

Henry Yates on new releases from Ben Prestage, Simon McBride, Eric Gales, Ben Poole and 24 Pesos

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Ben Prestage: Real Music

Skim Ben Prestage’s bio and you can practically hear the hands of a thousand marketing executives rub together. Not only does this Florida slogger look like Seasick Steve with a skincare programme (denims, lumberjack shirt, beard like a polecat, Fidel Castro’s cap…) but his one-man, box-beating, junk-shop vibe is so achingly ‘now’ that it could have been brainstormed by Saatchi & Saatchi. The ‘mini Seasick’ comparison is inevitable, but if Prestage can ride it out, the talent he displays on Real Music will eclipse it. The title sounds self-consciously retro – the sort of thing the Stereophonics might call an album – but it’s apt enough in the best possible way, with these 16 tracks alive with earthy, unfussy energy, manic musicality, and the taste of dirt and whisky. You wonder how far Prestage can take this on his own (and you suspect he’s better live) but Real Music is a compelling introduction to a refreshing talent. Our only criticism: terrible sleeve. (810)

Simon McBride: Since Then

The Belfast guitarist impressed with 2008’s Rich Man Falling; this strong follow-up doesn’t change the rocksteady format but perfects the execution. With respect to McBride’s voice and writing, the guitar remains the star, with the stinging grooves on Down To The Wire and Take My Hand suggesting Irish men in pubs may finally stop going on about Rory Gallagher. (610)

Eric Gales: Relentless

Quiz the new blues generation on their influences and Tennessee gunslinger Eric Gales comes up time and again. Relentless is just that: an album with a jutting chin and a Terminator’s tenacity, with scabrous guitars placed high in the mix, played with an animalistic touch, and accompanied by Jimi-sounding vocals. We like it. (710)

**Ben Poole: Everything I Want **

Jeff Beck calls him “amazing”. Gary Moore considers him “a really good guitar player” (steady on, Gaz…). If anyone cares what we think, it’s that 22-year-old Poole has a stone-cold touch on electric, a gutsy voice, and writing chops that stand up to his cover of Free’s Fire And Water. Only five tracks here, but it’s a great amuse-bouche. (710)

24 Pesos: Busted, Broken And Blue

Busted, Broken And Blue’s inlay card finds the London-based quartet playing outside the Houses of Parliament – but don’t expect any Pistols-style anarchy within. Coming on like a more benevolent Fun Lovin’ Criminals with Ry Cooder on slide guitar, you almost expect the Cabinet to come out and form a conga line. Good stuff, in other words. (610)