What started out as a recreational project of UK friends getting together to share their mutual love of the blues turned into a full blown band. Herein we have the results of their first foray into the recording studio. It is a collection of half originals and half cover tunes. The originals hold to a blues approach and ethic, except for the mostly blues-rock guitar playing of Robin Robertson. Annette Chapman’s enthusiastic and pleasing “pipes” front the band in grand style.
The cover versions are pretty faithful to the original versions, excluding the instrumental solos. Annette handles the Sippie Wallace blues classic “Women Be Wise” coming off sounding like a cross between Maria Muldaur and Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie popularized the song for a modern audience. The band tackles another blues classic with a rousing, sped-up version of Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City”. Although they see fit to change one word, “The Thrill Has Gone” is still the B.B. King signature song, featuring some nicely distorted blues-rock guitar. Their take on Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” stays pretty close to form and Annette’s effective vocal makes the lengthy workout easy to take. A revival feeling is given to “C.C. Rider”, which benefits from a well done organ solo at the hands of keyboardist Dot Allan.
The original tunes are all worthy efforts, except for “New Orleans” which is a misstep in my opinion. They keep whining about “going to New Orleans” while there is no attempt to give the song a New Orleans feel. Annette’s yearning vocal on “Dust In the Wind” displays her lovely vocal range. Electric piano and organ nicely frame the song. The mysteriously funky atmosphere perfectly suits “Long Time Dead” with it’s sinewy organ and snaky guitar. Beautifully distorted guitar burns through “My Baby’s Gone”, a sweltering slow burner. Dot Allan’s piano is a highlight behind Annette’s swaggering, hard as nails vocal on “Look Who’s Talkin'”.
The results here are mostly strong, if not adventurous performances. Nothing that we haven’t heard before, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable record. Annette Chapman’s voice is a pliable instrument that fits the slow tunes as well as the rockers. The very competent blues-rock guitar and keyboards provide interesting solos throughout, all supported by a sturdy rhythm section. I will be curious to see how this outfit progresses into the future.