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SHORTSTUFF — BIG BLUE (Blonde On Blonde/ Digital (Records) Limited

Blues brothers Dave Thomas and Hugh Gregory debuted on the UK folk club circuit in 1974, and though they recorded a few tracks in 1975 the tapes were thought to be long, long gone. Before that is, the tapes reappeared in a Hackney attic. Now the best have been joined by some 1992 recordings the boys did and at long last their debut album. Big Blue is a loose affair, one that fits like an old shoe, as blues, country blues and a sampling folk and blues-rock are spiced together as one.

On choosing traditional tune “Honeybabe” plus Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter”, JJ Cale’s “Magnolia”, Dan Hicks’ “O’Reilly’s at The Bar”, J.B Lenoir’s “I Sing ‘Em The Way I Feel and John Mayall’s “Sitting In The Rain” plus two from Terry McGhee (“Sitting On Top Of The World” and “Love’s A Disease”), and the likewise two from J.J Cale “Magnolia” and “Same Old Blues” they keep it simple and at the same time varied. Enough to ensure one song doesn’t run into the next. From the opening line on “Hey Porter” I was taken with the relaxed ambiance of the duo’s work, nothing was over done or lacking in accompaniment as the songs became their own!

“Magnolia” offers quite a challenge to them, but through gentle coercing of electric and acoustic guitar and sympathetic vocal and otherwise arrangements Thomas and Gregory (plus the third member of the unit, Steve Jinks on percussion, bass, etc) conquer without a hint of trouble. Dan Hicks’ music (“O’Reilly At The Bar”) was an even bigger one, and though I have always found his work in general a little too eclectic the boys are once again up to the task. On showing a little more urgency, perfect timing it is too they follow with “Same Old Blues” with a mighty version of “Sitting On Top Of The World”. Where Thomas who has a band of his own and renowned for his blues guitar playing utilizes his skill on harmonica as old McGhee favourite not only gains a run out, but a really good one! Back to “Hey Porter” I just love what they do with it more every time i hear it. Nice work boys, for those interested Thomas and Gregory will be supporting the album with live shows.  

Maurice Hope      

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November 2017

JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Ear Music
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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