The Hideaways – The Lost Tapes, Vol 1
Mind Smoke Records – 2019
10 tracks; 37 minutes
This CD documents a recording session in New Jersey in 2006. According to the PR sheet these four guys walked in off the street and recorded these tunes in one evening. The band at the time was Chris James on vocals, guitar and organ, Scotty Micciche on harp and vocals, Sean O’Neill on bass and the late ‘Boom Boom’ Johnson (to whose memory the album is dedicated) on drums. It appears from the Mind Smoke website that the band is still active but no other album releases are noted. Quite why the material remained unreleased is not clear but it’s a workmanlike disc with good quality sound as the quartet runs through a pretty diverse set of material. There are no writing credits provided but nine of the songs are definitely covers whilst one may be original.
The set opens with frantic takes on “Let’s Have A Natural Ball” and “Farmer John”, perhaps matching the PR sheet’s claim that the band’s “rapid-fire live show has the energy, impact and drive of a set by the Ramones and the Clash”! Things calm down a little for “Lonely Avenue” with plenty of shimmering guitar behind the vocals, harp player Scotty sitting this one out though he more than makes up for that on Little Walter’s “Little By Little” which has lots of solid harp work as well as some excellent guitar, making it a good version of a song that we probably hear a bit too frequently. Next up is Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny” which rocks along well in a short, sharp version, just under three minutes, before the harp is again prominent on Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It” with vocals sung through the harp mike.
The mood then shifts away from the blues with a rockabilly take on “Oh Lonesome Me” before the band tackles the old Joe Liggins favourite “Pink Champagne, The Hideaways going for a multi-vocal approach with the harp playing behind the vocals. The instrumental “Honey Boy” was not familiar to this reviewer and might possibly be an original tune. It is impressive with great fast picking on guitar, stop-start rhythm section and nice harp work backed by jazzy organ fills before the album closes with T-Bone Walker’s ballad “I’m Still In Love With You” which features Chris’ guitar work, very much in T-Bone style.
Nothing startlingly original here but solid versions of some well-loved tunes, well played and recorded, making it a decent listen.