Self-Release – 2014
13 tracks; 47 minutes
The Pass Over Blues Band is based in Germany. Established in 1991 the band is guitarist Roland Beeg, vocalist, harp player and occasional guitarist Harro Huebner, drummer Michiel Demeyere and bassist Lutz Mohri. Additional musicians are Andi Geyer on keys, Christian Hartung on accordion and Roland Leisegang on percussion. All the material is original, mainly written by Harro with some assistance from Roland and there is an additional bonus track, a cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Harro was born in East Germany and spent time in prison for writing protest songs against the regime and trying to escape to the West – no surprise that he has a genuine reason to feel the blues! Each of the titles here starts with ‘the’, hence the name of the CD.
The style here is classic blues, as epitomised on opener “The Mistake”. Harro’s voice reminds you of late period Jim Morrison (think “LA Woman”) and he generally sings well, without too much by way of accent. Lyrically this one is a song of regret about how he mistreated a woman, Roland’s angular guitar solo hitting some suitably ‘blue’ notes over a laid-back rhythm section. “The Distance” is a shuffle with piano and some nice guitar in the opening section, Harro sounding a little gruffer as he claims that he is not the reason she is looking around. Some stinging guitar and clean harp lines stand out here.
“The Day” is pretty laid back with Roland’s stinging guitar at low volume, all a suitable intro to Harro’s gentle vocals and wistful harp. “The Decision” is a co-write between Harro and Roland, the organ being the featured instrument here over a catchy rhythm guitar riff, a successful track which takes the band a little away from their standard blues approach. Changing tack again “The One” is a gentle, almost folky, acoustic tune with accordion and gentle percussion providing a fine backdrop to Roland’s plucked acoustic solo. “The Sense” stays in acoustic mode, this time with banjo from Harro who tells us that all that makes sense to him is “wasting time, beautiful time”.
“The People” is a longer track and the band return to electric mode for this one, Roland’s ringing chords introducing a menacing rhythm from the band as Harro criticises people who “believe they know how everything works”. That Jim Morrison comparison comes up again here vocally and Roland finds some great chords, the chorus supported by Andi’s organ to give another recollection of The Doors here. “The Question” returns to acoustic mode as Roland’s delicate chords open the short piece before Harro’s world-weary vocals take centre stage.
There is some fine acoustic playing (guitar and bass) on “The Past” which has a touch of classic rock about the way that the chorus comes in and an excellent solo from Roland over the rumbling bass and swirling organ. The album proper concludes with three short tracks: Harro’s harp leads the way on an uptempo tune “The Move”, a co-write with Klaus Fiola-Müller with whom Harro collaborates in other ensembles; “The Time” is a brooding rocker with the depressing refrain “I hope it will be easy to go without anger, trouble or fear; I hope it will be easy, easy when I go to die” – fortunately Roland’s guitar is there to provide an uplifting solo to offset the mood of the lyrics! “The Answer” opens with Roland in relaxed mood on guitar as Harro seems to be in a more positive mood than on the previous track: “It’s a good life because I am alive”. Harro gives us a final harp solo to good effect.
The acoustic cover of the George Harrison song is well done but makes a strange bedfellow which adds little to the themed approach of the rest of the album though it does remind us that there was a third great songwriter in The Beatles.
This is an unusual and interesting album, well played and thoughtfully written.