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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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May 2018

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