Pat Fulgoni – Dark Side of the Blues
Chocolate Fireguard Music
10 songs – 50 minutes
Based out of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, Pat Fulgoni is a gifted vocalist/horn player who’s a proven commodity in rock, modern electronic and dance music and more in the United Kingdom and across Europe but proved to be a talent in the blues world with this set, too.
A world traveler whose work has appeared in the scores of TV’s Weeds, John from Cincinnati, major movies and video games for Xbox and iOS, Fulgoni is best known as the front man for the rock/funk band Kava Kava and work with dozens of artists in everything from jazz, psychedelia and drum-and-bass to dub, Fulgoni has been called “the Jack Bruce of the e-generation” by the prestigious The Wire magazine in his homeland, and Billboard once described him as being able “to sing a pearl from its oyster.”
Possessing a strong love for the blues, too, he was rehearsing his new band, Blues Experience, in the Czech Republic in 2020 prior to launching a 2021 festival tour that already included two of the biggest events on the Continent — the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne and the Czech Blues Alive in Sumperk. They’d already performed live on national TV and been featured in a Czech Grammy-winning documentary about the local blues scene when they recorded this album live at Faust Studios in Prague.
Fulgoni handles vocals throughout in a lineup that includes Jan and Lukas Martinek on guitars, Jan Korinek and Boris Secky on keys, Brian Reagan, Mick Reed and Vladimir “Break” Grunt on drums and Jason Riley, Leos Drabek and Vladimir Vytiska on bass. Additional instrumentation comes from Jim Correy (baritone sax), Richard Martin (trombone), Ondrej Konrad (harp) and executive producer Robert Mader who contributes bass and guitar on five of the ten tracks.
An uptempo guitar run opens an interesting take on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” before Pat’s warm, mid-range voice joins the action. The mid-tune guitar break from the Martinek brothers are red-hot without bleeding into a hard-rock edge. The action mellows and the sax comes to the fore as Fulgoni croons “Hard Times,” an often overlooked classic first released by Ray Charles in 1960.
Fulgoni dips into Bill Withers’ songbook for “Who Is He and What Is He to You” next, slowing down the arrangement considerably and adding a subdued, but funky rhythm pattern to the mix to make it his own with Silvia Josifoska lending her sultry voice as a response to Pat’s lead. It’s almost impossible to cover a B.B. King song and make it work, but this band succeeds with their take of “Thrill Is Gone.” It’s beefy, haunting and slightly behind the beat.
One of the best cuts in the set is “Think Twice Before You Go.” It maintains the feel of the John Lee Hooker original, but comes across as new thanks to a stripped down, uptempo delivery and out-front vocals delivered in a manner popular in the ‘50s. While the band’s take on Larry Davis’ “Texas Flood” is pretty close to the Stevie Ray Vaughan version, their interpretation of B.B.’s “Rock Me Baby” cuts new ground in a manner similar to his other tune above.
A nine-minute send-up of Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times” starts with a whisper before kicking into gear and flows into an interesting, bluesy take on Thin Lizzy’s “Still in Love with You” before a solid reworking of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” brings the disc to a close.
Initially released as a digital-only download, but now available as a CD through Amazon and other outlets, this disc hit the No. 2 spot on UK blues charts despite consisting of impeccably reworked covers – and for good reason. Rock solid from front to back.