CD: 16 Songs; 62:27 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric/Psychedelic Blues Rock
It’s time to play a word association game: What comes to mind when reading the phrases “target demographic”, “Little Wing”, and “flaming guitar”? What, or who, is the connection between them? Here’s a hint: He immolated one of his incredible instruments back in the ‘60s, causing both men and women in the audience to scream in ecstasy. The answer is Jimi Hendrix, one of the many musical influences of the UK’s Keith Thompson Band. Their eighth album, Catch the Fire, does indeed feature a sizzling shredder. Where does the “target demographic” come in? To put it plainly, people who love Hendrix will consider this CD a must-have, but those who favor less esoteric rock and more blues might skip it. Its pluses are originality on fifteen out of sixteen songs, and as the band’s website boasts, “No ‘Baby’s gone and left me’ lyrics!” Excellent, but Keith and his posse could have augmented that with more traditional melodies.
This ensemble has toured extensively throughout Europe – not only in populous countries such as Germany and their native Great Britain, but former Soviet republics like Croatia and Slovenia. Their claims to fame are as a live band as well as a studio band, full of vigor at any venue.
Performing along with Keith Thompson as he does vocals, guitars, keyboards, blues harp, and bass, are chief bassist Neil Simpson, drummer Roy Adams, special guest guitarists Buddy Whittington and Laurence Jones, Patsy Gamble on saxophone, background vocalists Robyn James, Jan Thompson and David Pick, and Federico Bozas on bass, drums and keys for track seven. All songs were written and composed by Thompson, except for Hendrix’s “Little Wing”. The three reviewed will be most likely to make purists clap instead of cringe:
Track 02: “Money” – This raw blues rock stomp proves that “Money ain’t such a good deal. We all do what we can in making it for real, but money won’t bring you joy…What goes round comes round again.” Perhaps the narrator of this song made too many shady compromises to earn his living. However, Keith Thompson compromises nothing in his habanero-hot guitar solo.
Track 07: “She’s Too Hot” – Buddy Whittington stars on lucky number seven. As for romance with the titular character, “it may look like fun, but it’s a dangerous game.” The reason? Check the title again. “Something tells me that you ain’t gonna listen to me,” says our protagonist to his naïve pal. Here’s what’s really too hot: Whittington’s riffs, which are the highlight of this song.
Track 14: “Wrong Side of the Bed” – We’ve all had days where our circumstances are nasty, and our mood is worse. Nevertheless, track fourteen takes off like a bullet train. “Can’t start my car, but it’s me that’s not in gear,” Thompson laments, evoking Steve Miller with a melancholy touch.
Catch the Fire of the Keith Thompson Band’s psychedelic blues rock, because it’s smoking!