Rawtone Records 20075
13 songs – 1 hour 7 minutes
Take a quick glance at the cover of this CD and you might expect a collection of swamp music from the banks of the Mississippi. Despite the bandy-eyed chicken staring at you and the name Sons Of The Delta, this quartet hails from the southwest corner of the United Kingdom and fires away on all cylinders as it delivers modern blues that fit comfortably in any format.
Formed as a duo by vocalist/harp player and slide guitarist Mark Cole and guitarist/vocalist Rick Edwards about 12 years ago, they switched flawlessly from acoustic to full-charged electric blues after releasing their first disc, One For The Road, in 2004. Frequent visitors to the real delta, they were joined in the studio by two legends, pianist Pinetop Perkins and former Jelly Roll Kings drummer Sam Carr, for their critically acclaimed CD, Made In Mississippi two years later. They liked the expanded sound so much, they decided to their lineup to a four-piece, and now feature a rhythm section of drummer Martin Fitzgibbon and bassist Lyndon Webb. Adding to the mix here are special guests Mike “Mossman” Myers (electric guitar), Bill Blair (keyboards), Jake Carpenter (piano) and a backing chorus of Dionne Andrews, Patricia Bailey and Darrel McCalla.
A lilting harp line kicks off “Just Want To Make A Living,” a song any musician can relate to with the message: “I don’t want to make a name/I just want to make a living.” The ensemble’s collective light touch effortlessly drives the tune forward with Edwards contributing an extended solo at the break while Cole’s vocals are powerful, clean, and swing. The theme continues, driven by a syncopated drumbeat and doubling harp line to propel “Never Had Nothin’ When Times Were Good.” A cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic, “People Get Ready,” follows, borrowing a little from the song’s treatment by Bob Marley.
The Sons take a little liberty with Robert Petway’s “Catfish Blues” for their rendition of “Spaceman Blues.” The original borrows rhythm and lyrical patterns from the 1941 classic, aided by a control-room voiceover. This time, however, Cole wishes he were a spaceman and could explore the girl of his dreams through the day as he makes the song his own. “Scared Of Love” borrows the opening guitar lick from Magic Sam’s “Easy Baby” as it delivers the story of a woman who’s scared of love and runs away. Edwards’ fretwork is featured throughout as he lays down his own stylish patterns.
“Time Marches On” adapts a walking rhythm and driving circular harp line as it sings to the benefits of the blues: “Blues is like wine./It gets better with age./And I’m a-gonna keep playin’./Just wheel me on stage.” Next up, “Downhome Blues” is a Southern blues-rock original about the population of the Delta through slavery, not a cover of the Z.Z. Hill blockbuster. Bukka White’s “When Can I Change My Clothes” follows, delivered with reverence, combining acoustic and electric guitar patterns as it delivers the first-person message of someone working on a chain gang.
The band gets funky for the sexually fueled “Get Down And Let Me In” before a little old-style Chicago slow blues, “Too Little Too Late,” a nine-minute grinder about a relationship gone bad. “Thirtynineteen” features a swamp blues rhythm pattern as it describes a mature woman with playful ways, while “Water Will Rise” is an acoustic tune that recounts flooding around the world with a strong Delta/gospel feel. The disc concludes with “Out On A Saturday Night,” a plea leave the TV behind to enjoy live music somewhere outside.
Available through all of the major online outlets, Tasty Nuggets is well-named. The Sons Of The Delta are unrelenting as they deliver one rock-solid tune after another. The disc will grow with each subsequent listen. Strongly recommended.