Crawlback Featuring Johnny Bird | Album Review

Crawlback Featuring Johnny Bird

Call My Job Records

12 songs time – 51:20

Seems like Britain just keeps churning out authentic blues bands and Crawlback Featuring Johnny Bird is no exception. Whether it be their two original compositions or their eclectic choice of songs to cover everything is right on the mark. Johnny takes on lead vocals, harmonica and occasional guitar chores. His core band is Mark Phillips on guitar, Paul Hurley on bass and Colin Griffin in the drum seat. Various guests sit in on piano, horns and backing vocals. Crawlback carries on the tradition of British Blues stalwarts. Their blues doesn’t drift into rock territory. Rockabilly and R&B accents turn up from time to time.

Johnny’s assertive and pleasantly gritty vocals fit hand-in-glove with the songs within. All the supporting musicians are first rate. The guitarists get the occasional solo turn, but this is primarily a harmonica lovers album, not to overlook the well sung vocals and lyrics.

Right out of the box the band kicks in with a high octane harmonica fueled jump blues with “I Got No Reason” a cover of another harp ace Mitch Kashmar’s song. Their choice of covers is eclectic, varying from Jimmy Reed to an instrumental by Duke Ellington. They capture Reed’s easy rollin’ groove just right on the money with “Found Love”. “Tribute To Eddie Taylor jr.” is a Chicago Blues harmonica workout. Harmonica is again featured on a boisterous take on the tom-tom infused “Caravan”.

“Blues Stop Knockin'” finds them covering obscure rockabilly singer Al Ferrier’s tune. They are adept at any genre they tackle. Guitarist Mark Phillips is up to the task of anything they attempt with an occasional assist from Johnny on guitar. The rhythm section are hardly sloughs themselves. Composed by Mel London and most familiarly performed by Junior Wells and the early Rolling Stones, they do justice to “Little By Little”.

“Wild Man” is a slow blues from the hand of the late, great William Clarke. Female vocalist Bella Collins takes the lead on Etta James’ “Good Rockin’ Daddy”, “No More Lies” and a hidden track after “Wild Man” with her riveting voice.

A flawless gem of a record by these Brits with a true reverence for the music they are producing and the musical chops to pull it off in grand style. Johnny Bird leads the charge with commanding vocals and a harp attack that doesn’t let up. The band is with him all the way supporting this valiant effort of blues and roots music. This what we in da biz refer to as a keeper.

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