CD: 13 Songs, 41:54 Minutes
Styles: “High-Octane Boogie Woogie,” Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs, Debut Album
Dirk Digglers Blues Revue, a “high-octane boogie woogie” ensemble out of Great Britain, more than delivers on its promise to provide their particular brand of blues. It’s loud, flashy, and in-your-face, packing enough wallop to blow out the most stalwart speaker systems. Cuba Neils, their debut album, features a baker’s dozen original songs fit for any party – especially outdoors. Without a doubt, traditionalists will deem it a rock CD, and they’d be 99% correct. However, who cares when Mark Sweetmore’s propulsive electric shredder steals the show, taking listeners on a rocket ride into the stratosphere? Lead vocalist and bassist Darrell Wheatley lays down some killer backbeats while sounding like an older Warren Zevon on “Werewolves of London.” Does this quartet sound like Muddy Waters? No. How about Cream or Fleetwood Mac? No again. The Blues Revue has a vibe all its own, a devil-may-care style that takes no prisoners. Plus side? It works better than caffeine pills to keep one awake and alert. Minus side? Lyrics lovers such as yours truly might have trouble finding them in the middle of the instrumentation.
Cuba Neils, released in 2017, demonstrates the band’s explosive musicianship, even on its slow to mid-tempo numbers such as “Steamroller Blues” (reviewed below). They recorded it in their self-owned studio, which explains its raw and unfiltered atmosphere. Over the last decade, they’ve been playing up and down the United Kingdom and have supported some of the top names in the blues circuit. While they continue to perform at bars, clubs and blues festivals in their native country, they’re currently working on their second album.
Dirk Digglers Blues Revue consists of Darrell Wheatley on lead vocals and bass; Mark Sweetmore on guitar; Paul Reece on keyboards and backing vocals, and Aaron Gent on drums. Special guest stars include Chris Dyer on saxophone; Steve Beardmore on harmonica; Ciprian Bolea on violin; Kristian Bonham Gent on guitar, and Alix Musso on background vocals.
The following three songs are guaranteed to get the wax out of one’s ears, one’s rear out of one’s seat, and one’s hand full of a favorite adult beverage.
Track 01: “Nothing Too Untoward” – Volume alert: Crank it up to 11, but prepare yourself. The resulting blast might knock you into a parallel universe. With a low-down, throw-down tempo, this is the first and best example of the sort of music the Revue advertises. Need proof? Savor Mark Sweetmore’s solo, drowning out all sense of decorum and strutting its stuff to the max. Also superb are Paul Reece’s keyboards, infusing this number with an extra-electrifying jolt.
Track 07: “I’m But a Fool” – Slowing it down a bit, but not by much, is lucky number seven. Dig Chris Dyer’s sultry saxophone in the intro, harmonizing beautifully with the lead and bass guitars. “Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever been down?” asks Darrell Wheatley of his lost love. “Am I going crazy? Am I losing my mind?” Sometimes love is indeed madness.
Track 09: “Steamroller Blues” – Suave and strutting, this jazz-inspired number would be perfect sung by a nightclub chanteuse. There might be a bit too much going on instrumentally, but no matter. It’s catchy and relate-able, with a solo perfect for air-guitar aficionados.
Dirk Digglers Blues Revue has more octane in their tunes than a pro-stock dragster has in its tank. As for Cuba Neils? If you love your blues loud, proud and far, far to the rock side of the genre, look no further!