CD: 11 Songs; 55:42 Minutes
Styles: Traditional Acoustic Blues, Piano Blues
Los Angeles’ Doug “Dubb” MacLeod (pronounced McCloud) has an illustrious history with the blues – and this magazine. In 2013 he won the Blues Blast Music Award for Best Male Artist of the Year, and received nominations for Song of the Year and Traditional Blues Album. In 2015, he wants listeners to know that great acoustic blues sounds Exactly Like This – crisp, original, and engaging. Even though his voice is aging, leading to muffled diction, there’s no denying his legendary musical talent. Dubb’s website reveals, “Over 29 years, 19 studio albums, several live records, compilations, a blues guitar instructional DVD and a live performance DVD, MacLeod has consistently earned raves. His songs have been covered by many artists including Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis Walker and Eva Cassidy. He has co-written songs with Dave Alvin and Coco Montoya.” Nearly three decades have refined him into a renowned blues master.
Performing alongside him on this album are drummer Jimi Bott, bassist Denny Croy, and pianist Michael Thompson. They all prove that music in this genre doesn’t have to be screamingly loud in order to be enjoyable. “Mellow” and “low-key” are compliments here, as they should be. Three things make this Reference Recordings album worthy of a spot in one’s reference collection: 1) Doug MacLeod plays pure blues, with no other styles mixed in; 2) he employs superb songwriting skills; and 3) there are zero covers out of eleven tunes. These three are tops:
Track 01: “Rock It Till the Cows Come Home” – Louis Jordan’s influence can be clearly heard in the CD’s smoking opener. Especially hot are Michael Thompson’s piano intro and MacLeod’s crystal-clear guitar. This should be played at every Chicago blues nightclub and on every blues radio show. Listening to this song is like slipping into one’s most comfortable pair of shoes.
Track 04: “Ain’t It Rough?” – Feisty number four is what’s called a “patter song”, a la “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man and “Uneasy Rider ‘88” by Charlie Daniels. The vocalist doesn’t sing, but rather narrates in a jovial and staccato style. This one’s about a musician who’s finding his significant efforts are insufficient: “…This drunk kept coming on. I said, ‘Excuse me man, I’ve got a cue. He said, ‘Is that more important than me talking to you?’ I said, ‘It’s something we’ve got to do. Don’t get me wrong…Ain’t it rough?” Musicians everywhere will empathize.
Track 05: “Vanetta” – MacLeod channels John Lee Hooker in the next song, an ode to a dame whose “legs reach up to the sky”. According to the liner notes, Dubb used “Bastard G tuning instead of open G, mainly because it’s easier for me to play octaves in Bastard G.” Whatever the case may be, this is blues with a capital B. If crowds don’t dance, they need ants in their pants.
Superior traditional acoustic blues sounds Exactly Like This!