Three Hours Past Midnight – You Can Stay But the Noise Must Go
14 songs, 1 hr and 5 min
There is a type of Texas Blues that is swinging and funky. It’s not a shuffling two step like the Vaughan Brothers or a rockin’ thump like ZZ Top. This Texas Blues was born from the C bend to D, D, G triplet riff that T-Bone Walker played in syncopated repetition. It was matured by Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Johnny Guitar Watson. It was made raw and emotional by Freddie King and Albert Collins. It swings hard and drips with a stinky dose of funk. It is this Texas sound that Geneva Switzerland’s Three Hours Past Midnight are recreating on their debut record You Can Stay But the Noise Must Go.
You Can Stay But the Noise Must Go is a fun groovy album. The subtitle for this record could be “a tribute to Albert Collins and Johnny Guitar Watson.” Both the name of the band and the title track of this record are Johnny G songs and Watson’s virtuoso guitar inventions and 50’s aesthetic is all over the place. But this record is even more indebted to the Iceman, Albert Collins. Band leader/guitarist/producer Laurent Gillieron is an obvious disciple, most apparent on the faithful recreation of the Collins cover “I Begin to Wonder.” His solid economical guitar playing is tasteful throughout.
Economy and a tasteful aesthetic characterizes Gillieron’s production and the band’s chemistry. This is a covers album but not of obvious overwrought workhorses. The choices of lesser know songs by legends and modern songs by Robert Cray and John Nemeth are refreshing. Bassist Antoine Superflej Jr. (in full Johnny B Gayden mode) and drummer Baptiste Paracchini are young musicians who play with mature restraint. Singer Juliana Tarris has a calm mellow voice that is reassuring and solid. Even the brash addition of “The Atomic Horns,” Alberto Oliva on trombone and Larry Lee on sax, fit right in and don’t interrupt the groove. Check out first track, the instrumental Mar-Kays cover “Grab This Thing,” for a showing of what this horn section is about.
Some sparks fly from the guest musicians. Sugar Ray Norcia adds his distinctive harp to “He Belongs to Me” an uptempo Magic Sam rework. Legend Anson Funderburgh and Monster Mike Welch each offer lead guitar heat to their respective jump blues numbers. Piano is added by Gentleman John Street and Anthony Geraci. Geraci also contributes the only original song on the record “Diamonds and Pearls,” (obviously not the classic Prince song). The guest musicians, especially the guitarists, push the band into more emotive space and add dynamics and urgency.
The funky swinging Texas blues is a fun loving and emotional music. It has curb appeal that belies its depth; listeners are drawn in by the flashy and charming first impression and then are challenged by witnessing real emotions. The music on You Can Stay But the Noise Has to Go is solid and a great recreation of the curb appeal. However, the music doesn’t have the depth of the gyrating funk of Johnny Guitar Watson or the ice cold stank of Albert Collins. The packaging of this record is an homage to Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets debut album Talk To You by Hand. This tribute helps to deepen the impression that this album is a love letter to the band’s influences but, not a unique statement. This solid debut has great potential. If Gillieron and co. can begin to infuse their Blues with more of themselves, this band could become very deep and truly funky.