This is the first recording of Adventures In Bluesland, an outfit led by singer, guitarist, harmonica player and songwriter Phil Gammage. The native Texan leads his New York City based band through its’ paces as they offer up an amalgamation of blues, roots music, R&B and a dash of country. Among the members they have played with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Julee Cruise, John Cale and others. They present nine Gammage originals along with two covers. Along with guitar, bas and drums they include lap steel guitar, keyboards and sax. The overall sound is fine, but for some inexplicable reason they use way too much echo on most of the vocals.
Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “One Kind Favor” has sort of a country music-rockabilly feel enhanced by the most heavily echoed vocal here and the snappy rim shots of drummer-producer Kevin Tooley resulting in a very satisfying version. “Creepy In The Woods” moves along seamlessly with some great swinging guitar and a nicely twangy vocal. What amounts to a ska musical underpinning makes “Float And Sting” glide along at a jaunty pace. The sax and organ of Robert Aaron seem to be yanked right out a Specials record. Bass player Johnny Cement lives up to his name by supplying a strong foundation.
The crew gets slow and bluesy on “I’m Drifting” and the listener gets swept into a melancholy state of mind via some mellow guitar and sax. It’s boogie time as the band shifts gears as they dig into “Booze, Blues & New Tattoos”, a classic road tune featuring the gritty lap steel of Don Florino. A chugging guitar and amped-up harmonica along with some noisy lap steel create an energetic and joyful noise on “Our Lucky Day”.
The upbeat “Feel The Music” rocks and sways along with soothing sax and organ. Geeshie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues” employs only acoustic guitar and the ever-present echo that in this case gives the song an eerie quality. Distorted rhythm guitar, lap steel, organ and sax come in and out of the mix in “On the Beach”. Late night electric piano and sexy sax create a mellow mood on “Come To Me”.
The band blends a variety of styles to arrive at their own sound. Roots music is in good hands here. We are sure to hear much more good and creative sounds from this band in the future.