American Blues Artist Group – 2014
12 tracks; 52 minutes
Dudley Taft is from Cincinatti and his latest CD was recorded in Nashville in his studio at the home he bought from Peter Frampton. The connection with Nashville is that the CD was produced by Tom Hambridge who has been extremely busy this last year with releases from Buddy Guy, James Cotton and Dana Robbins amongst others.
Dudley’s core band is a trio with Dudley on guitar and vocals, John Kessler on bass and Jason Patterson on drums. Reese Wynans adds B3 to seven of the tracks, Ann and Regina McCrary add vocals to one track and the Muscle Shoals Horn Section appears on one track; Jim Horn on sax, Vinnie Seizeilski on trumpet and Charles Rose on trombone. Tom Hambridge swaps the producer’s chair for the drum stool on two tracks. Dudley wrote most of the songs here with some assistance from Tom and Tom’s frequent collaborator Richard Fleming and there are two covers.
Unusually the album opens with the two covers. Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” sets the tone for much of the album with Dudley’s harsh voice and screaming guitar to the fore. The version was an attempt “to give it a Led Zeppelin ‘Black Dog’ interpretation” according to Dudley but it is unlikely that Skip James would recognise his song here.
Gene Chandler’s “Pack It Up” fares better, Reese’s B3 adding a mellow feel and the horns giving a funky feel to the track– a shame that this is their only appearance. Thereafter it is Dudley’s originals all the way and the style is definitely at the rock end of blues-rock.
With his large stetson and beard Dudley recalls ZZ Top and “Red Line” barrels along with something of that Texan feel, machine gun drums underpinning the guitar which is double tracked at times. The title track is a slower tune with more blues content though the distorted vocals were not a plus; the guitar solo is very Jimmy Page-inspired to these ears. In “3DHD” Dudley tells us that he “dreams in 3DHD, things are so much clearer for me”, backing up that statement with some strong shredding on guitar.
Things carry on in similar vein through the next three tracks before on “Barrio” the acoustic guitar and backing vocals from the McCrary sisters make a pleasant change from the relentlessly upbeat tunes and overdriven guitar.
At this point the album changes style somewhat as the acoustic remains in the background for “Sleeping In The Sunlight” before “Tears In Rain” comes across like prog rock from the 70’s!
Closer “Say You Will” has, according to Dudley, ‘a David Gilmour influence’ but I think he must have been listening to different Pink Floyd albums than the ones in my collection. What is certainly true is that the last few songs on the album are much more classic rock influenced than the earlier, heavier tracks but there is not a lot of blues content here at all.
Certainly worth investigating if the rockier end of the spectrum is what grabs you.