Geoff Carne & The Raw Rox Band – Big City
Advision UK – 2020
10 tracks; 35 minutes
Geoff Carne is a UK-based musician whose earliest influences were Paul Rogers and Free. He spent many years writing and performing across different music genres but returned to blues and rock-based material in 2014, forging a successful duo with drummer Mick Hatz until Mick’s retirement in early 2020. Geoff produced three solo EPs in early 2020 under the title Acoustica 1-3 and then looked for a band to flesh out the songs in a full band setting. Geoff’s producer Paul Mex reached out to contacts among session musicians and the Raw Rox Band was the result: Andy ‘Slash’ Rockman on lead guitar, Bob Calvert on keys, Jim Black on bass and Zoki Jovanoski on drums; Geoff himself handles lead vocals/rhythm guitar and wrote all the material.
We are generally in British blues-rock here, the blues element being quite a small part of what is on offer. Opener “Are You Ready?” pounds along pleasantly but is lyrically rather repetitive as Geoff repeats the title many times over. “Hold On” was released as a taster single and is not dissimilar to the first track, not least in the repeated title. “She’s On Fire” has a touch of 80’s sound (Duran Duran, perhaps?) in the keyboard motif behind the riffing guitars. Geoff professes to have been “stuck in a rut, need to make a change, gotta move on to the big town, find something new” on the title track which perhaps demonstrates more clearly its acoustic origins with a clearer, less ‘muddy’ sound. “A Heartache” retains the less dense sound on a riff-driven tune with a catchy chorus.
The next four songs are all the sort of blues-rock that is successful for emerging British bands like King King: “Feel The Blues” has a chugging riff underpinning some clear lead guitar work, swirling organ and a strong vocal as Geoff feels he is being “dragged down because it makes you feel better”; “Good Man Down” has a solid riff at its core with wailing guitar overlaid; “Midnight Blue” and “Are You Strong Enough?” follow a similar pattern with strong choruses and ringing guitar. Geoff changes things up a little on the final track “Free” which starts with the acoustic guitar framed by keyboard and bass before it builds as electric guitar and drums join in. A song about feeling confident to be yourself, the song gives a lyrically positive finale to the album.
Frankly there is little or no actual blues here so traditionalists can certainly pass on this one. There are lots of blues-rock bands around, so it will be hard to break into that well-filled category, but Geoff and his band are at least producing all their own material which is a positive.