Blues Round-up: September 2015

Henry Yates on new releases from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Malted Milk & Toni Green, Geoff Everett, Erja Lyytinen and Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin

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Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Call it a happy accident. When Colorado folkie Nathaniel Rateliff came off the road from 2013’s strummy Falling Faster Than You Can Run, he started writing tooth-rattling, throat-shredding soul cuts “just for the hell of it”. Eleven songs later, he had a set strong enough for Stax to pick it up. This cracking debut with seven-piece band The Night Sweats runs with the Memphis label’s spiritual baton, from the jittery, Rescue Me brass of I Need Never Get Old to the handclaps, barber-shop harmonies and howled vocal that makes S.O.B the party-starting fulcrum.

Yet intriguingly – and reassuringly, for existing fans of his mordant world view – Rateliff can’t decide whether he wants to make us shake our asses or cry into our whisky. The spring-heeled melodies often mask a cry for help; he’s said S.O.B is “kind of making light of alcoholism”. Whichever level you enjoy it on, this folkie’s volte-face is less ‘Judas’, more ‘genius’. (910)

Malted Milk & Toni Green: Milk & Green

It’s a stretch to call them a supergroup, but the hook-up of underrated French crack-shots Malted Milk and Memphis belter Toni Green is a great fit. The collective’s chemistry ensure covers like Ann Peebles’ Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love aren’t just pointless retreads, but the standouts are the originals, particularly the choppy soul of Just Call Me. (810)

Geoff Everett: Cut And Run

British lifer Geoff Everett is one of the good guys, and Cut And Run is one of his best albums, showcasing lean songs performed with an itchy-fingered impetus that his 60s peers wish they could still muster. Following the slow-burn setup to Thirty Mile Free Fall, he puts a brick on the pedal, racing through the Stonesy I Can’t Let Go and the Who-worthy clatter of Devil’s Train. (810)

Erja Lyytinen: Live In London

Lyytinen’s reputation as a slide goddess gets top billing, but this CD/DVD set from the 100 Club shows how deep the Finnish bandleader’s talent runs. Her a capella vocal to Fred McDowell’s It’s A Blessing stops the clocks, and the wah-driven Let It Shine and Grip Of The Blues are originals to stand alongside the expected slug of material from last year’s Elmore James tribute, The Sky Is Crying. (810)

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin: Lost Time

During the three decades since Dave Alvin quit The Blasters, neither he nor brother Phil found a better foil than each other. Picking up from last year’s Big Bill Broonzy tribute Common Ground, here the Alvins run riot on another covers set, with strident harp and guitar driving Sit Down Baby and their vocals dovetailing on gospel standard If You See My Savior. (810)

Classic Rock 214: New Albums

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.