10 tracks / 42:47
Jim Singleton grew up as an army brat, so he has lived all over the world and he ended up with a hankering for American blues from the epic festivals he attended abroad. He brought this hunger for music back to the states with him, as well an understanding of how badly European players needed to get quality guitars into their hands. An export business grew from this, and now he is a respectable vintage guitar dealer and an acknowledged expert that contributes regularly to industry publications. But he is also an accomplished guitarist and singer, and he is not afraid to head into the studio to lay down some ambitious tracks!
8 O’Clock in the Afternoon is a self-produced effort by Jim Singleton, and he provided guitars and vocals for the project. He called on some amazing talent to join him in the studio, including legendary bassist Joe Osborne, Grammy-winner Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and guitar maven Bernie Marsden. It is a testament to his talent and extensive industry connections that he was able to make this happen. This disc has ten tracks, with three original and seven covers that include a few crazy surprises.
Jim starts the set with Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 hit “Rattlesnake Shake” which is arguably one of the best songs that Peter Green ever wrote. It provides a good dose of gnarly blues-rock and Singleton plays a mean guitar and his hearty voice really shines through the mix. This is followed up by Jerry Lynn Williams’ “Nothing to Do With Love,” which was cut from the same cloth. This song, most famously recorded by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is a hard rocker with killer organ from Michael “the Professor” Hensley and a driving drums from John Martin.
The work of Irish blues man Rory Gallagher is also represented on this CD and Singleton’s crew captured the raw energy of this legendary performer. “What’s Going On” is all raucous guitars and emotional vocals, and “A Million Miles Away” gives Jim the chance to show a little more versatility on the axe. The latter is a killer British blues jam with plenty of layered tracks that gives plenty of room for Jim to do his thing on the vocals. This song is one of the stronger ones in the set, and it was a wise choice to finish off the record.
A few of the covers really come out of left field. Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” has been re-imagined into a slow paced country ballad with some beautiful lap steel work, and it turns out very well. Though it is also very well done, the same cannot be said for Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” which follows a bit too closely to the source material. With its fairly faithful arrangement it is just too hard to disconnect it from the original, and Singleton’s voice is just too different from Isaak’s to pull it off.
In the midst of all of these cool covers, there is a sprinkling of well-written originals, too. Bernie Marsden contributed “Place in My Heart,” a slow and moody blues tune that includes some marvelous interplay between the guitars and Musselwhite’s harp. And guitarist Gary Vincent contributes a touch of country with “Don’t Take” (including some neat squeezebox from Mark Yacavone) and the blues-rock of “Place in My Heart.” Vincent delivers the goods here with strong songs from two different genres, and it is fortunate that he was included on this project.
8 O’clock in the Afternoon is a solid effort from Jim Singleton, and it is a great album for fans of blues and British blues-rock. The songs are all very good, and they were completed with fine musicianship and good production values. Hopefully Jim and his friends will be heading back to the studio again soon, as they provide cool music that can be listened to more than once!