CD & TAPE REVIEWS (BLUES / ROCK / FOLK)

(updated 25 Nov 2001)

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INTERNAZIONALE EP

KARL SVARC - RUNNING WATER

GARY RUDD - PANTS!

FLY THE HEART (Demo Tape Review)

CBN - 'GUMBO EP'

MICK PINI BAND - 'BLUES GONNA BE MY WAY'

SLIPSTREAM - 'HAUNTED'

THE BUZZ - SMOKIN' BLUES

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INTERNAZIONALE EP

Internazionale have chosen a more adventurous musical direction to ply their talents, than most young bands. Few groups play instrumental folk fusion, with a European feel. It is perhaps the musical freedom that appeals to the band's four musicians. The band are mainly based in the north of England, and have a strong connection with Lincolnshire. The CD was recorded live in the studio and captures the band playing and improvising on three pieces.

The opening track of this 4 track EP entitled 'Santamaria' has a light European feel, with more than a hint of Spanish as one might expect from the title, the D/G Diatonic accordion played by Liam Robertson has a distinctive French sound as well. The mid section features some enjoyable double bass work from Emlyn Vaughan which is followed by a percussion spot from Damo Waters (who many will know from his stand-in performances with Kevin Thorpe's Out Of The Blue and Lincoln rock band Agebaby) and some jazzy guitar from Nik Svarc. The catchy rhythm returns, it somehow it seems vaguely familiar though perhaps its just the European feel of the tune.

As with other pieces by Internazionale, 'Song For Francis' is actually a tune, a jazzy fusion of sounds that feature spots all the instruments during the track which is almost 10 minutes long, once again the guitar work has a European feel to it. There's plenty of variations to sit back and enjoy, together the group weave an intricate tapestry of sound, that is complex though never overbearing.

The third and final track on the EP 'Marquez Bushrui' continues the jazzy theme with some intricate interchanges between instruments and melodies, listen out for a jazzy guitar break accompanied by some nifty double bass work around the middle of the piece, before a drum solo from Damo. The track ends as it started with its lively melody.

Internazionale's music borders on modern jazz, with elements of rock and folk, an intriguing mixture not commonly attempted, especially by younger musicians. Their skilful arrangements allow the music to flow and also hold the listener's attention, indeed each play seems to uncover an undiscovered melody or sound. It will be interesting to see how they develop their sound over a full length CD.

The EP is available at gigs for £5 (+£1 P & P) or direct from the Internazionale website.

E-mail liam@thelittleband.fsnet.co.uk for further details.


KARL SVARC ~ 'RUNNING WATER' ~ TIPI 0002

Karl's latest CD follows in the footsteps of his previous album, 'Kicking Up A Stone' with both spiritual and natural themes at its heart melding of Western and American Indian cultures into music.

A short spoken verse 'Secret Places' which is backed by the unusual percussion instruments the Djembe and Darabukka, one of three such verses on 'Running Water' opens this new CD from the Lincoln based musician.

The rhythmic feel of 'Hold On' is similar to some of Eric Bibb's songs, the number also features some expressive acoustic & electric guitar work with a bluesy feel and strong vocals.

There's more than a hint of Dylan in Karl's vocal style on 'Satisfied Mind' a traditional song which we believe featured on Bob's 'Saved' album. The philosophy that a satisfied mind is not dependant on money would have many searching their innermost feelings in this material world. The combination of acoustic guitar & mandola gives the song great atmosphere.

Sean South & Ralph Spencer, formerly of Astrokat provide sensitive backing on a number of tracks including 'Changes' where Sean's bass work comes to the fore, in a slow jazzy style that suits the song.

The relaxing feel & the continuing theme of running water features on 'Wings Of An Angel', which features Karl's son Nick on an acoustic guitar solo. The songs lyrics lead the listener towards the next song.

The second spoken verse 'Time and Motion' introduces the listener to the second part of the CD.

As with the majority of the tracks on the album, 'Down To The River' is an original song, though the bluesy riffs and theme is reminiscent of a well known soul blues song of the same title. The rivers waters having a cleansing effect on the spirit, indeed this theme flows through 'Running Water'.

Like the cleansing waters, the symbol of the open hand has a spiritual significance which is reflected in the song 'Kindness Of An Open Hand' which features Corrine O'Sullivan's melodic backing vocals which contrast well with Karl's. There's more fine guitar work to enjoy here, especially in an instrumental section where Sean accompanies Karl on a nylon stringed flamenco guitar.

Karl's vocals remind us on some songs of Leonard Cohen, on 'Almost There' the delivery is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb', in a song with deep words the water theme compares the search for Jesus through life as like a river flowing to the ocean.

There are some excellent three way vocal harmonies between Karl, Sean and Corrine on the mysterious song, 'The Magician', a song that implies a communication breakdown between two people, compared to a mute, and maybe a deaf person yet this does not seem to be the full story.

After muteness, another sense is introduced into a break up of a relationship in 'Eyes' that leaves 'The Magician' shaking his head. The song features Sean on bass and has once again some excellent vocal harmonies from the three singers whose voices blend well together, whilst Nick Svarc plays the electric guitar. 'Eyes' and 'The Magician' seem to be interwoven together in the writer's thoughts, their profound words may not make immediate sense to the listener, but are none the less very pleasant songs.

The second traditional song 'One Kind Favour' the lovely yet solemn old blues number is given a great arrangement with both acoustic & electric guitars played by Karl.

The final spoken track 'Speak To Me Of Magic' with its references to the Indian Shaman recalls the power of the ancient Indian doctors that had such an influence not only on the people of the Indian tribes but also some in the Western culture such as Jim Morrison. Once again the words are backed by Ralph's percussion and are followed by a short percussion solo.

A real bonus at the end comes in the form of a reworked version of 'Silence Between The Lines' one of our favourite songs from Karl's last CD 'Kicking Up A Stone' featuring some lovely harmonies from Corrine & keeping the running water theme right to the end as the song fades out to the sound of a rainmaker.

Like the flowing waters, this CD with its melodic music is both relaxing but one that runs deep, speaking to the listener through its words and songs which are well worth hearing.

The CD will be available at Karl's gigs (see folk gigs pages)

or for further details email Sean South at: sean.south@ntlworld.com

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GARY RUDD ~ PANTS!

(A Together Production - tel 01522 721322 for info)

A gloriously eccentric offering from Lincolnshire musician, songwriter & producer Gary Rudd, who some will know from his bass playing with the Walter Harpman Band.

The 5 track EP CD opens with 'Military Intelligence' which is reminiscent of Monty Python & the Viv Stanshall's Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band, a funny song that is perhaps ominously too close to the truth for comfort!

'Island In The Sun' is a song about a holiday romance, from the viewpoint of the Spanish Barman with a clever twist at the end! Egly Lucas provides some of the Spanish sounding guitar

Take a journey to 'Jacobs Corner' for all your ills, whether this song recounts a real place in Lincolnshire we're not sure, once again there's some clever word play, Gary's vocals on this song have the softness of Harvey Andrews, whilst the percussion sounds add to the mood.

Opening with the sound of harmonica 'Lobby The Comatose Lobster' is the story of an indolent arthropod who perhaps should have gone to Jacobs Corner, but became a lobster legend. It could be difficult to sing the chorus after a few beers!

An expression that has spread like wildfire over the past couple of years is 'Pants!', in this song Gary gives us his explanation the true meaning of pants! Everyone's ideas will differ though we suspect you'll agree with many highlighted by Gary!

The CD has been carefully mixed & mastered by Alan Tuplin, who also put together the CD issues of the Walter Harpman Band CD's last Christmasrime.

If you don't have a sense of humour, heed the somewhat unusual warning on the CD's cover which states 'WARNING May cause offence to Grown Ups' ~ but if your sense of humour has not be dulled by age, or trying to be normal, sit back and enjoy! (PS Radio presenters should listen to songs prior to broadcasting as not all listeners or heads of programming may share our sense of humour!)

The CD costs £5 + 50p p&p for further details email alanonpiano@bun.com

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FLY THE HEART (Demo tape review)

Fly The Heart are a nine piece all-woman a cappella vocal ensemble. Formed in 1997, Fly The Heart will appeal to those who enjoy roots, folk & choral singing. The demo opens with 'Fly The Heart' written by their musical director Sally Brown, the quality of the harmonies are immediately apparent. The second song, 'Your Children' written by Kahlil Gibran has very meaningful lyrics. The group don't just stick to songs with English lyrics, their rendition of the traditional African song 'Mailaika' is both remarkable & soothing. According to the group's publicity their live performances also include songs from Mexico, The Philippines & France. 'False, False' sung to a traditional arrangement, has both a church like & folky feel. The demo closes with 'Hard Times' which features some fine vocal harmonisation. Quite different from anything we've reviewed before, the voices harmonise brilliantly together throughout & the overall effect is both uplifting yet restful. For further information about the group contact Liz Underhill tel. 01476 550972.

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CBN -THE GUMBO EP

CBN are one of the up and coming acts on the British blues rock circuit, the band's relative youth, musical skills & diverse sound help them stand out, in the currently rather maigned musical field. A variety of musical ingredients can be savoured on The Gumbo EP that captures CBN's rather unique sound. (CBN is short for Cookin' By Numbers - the band's original name).

Powerful guitar chords open 'Storm Clouds Over Me' the opening song of this 20 minute EP, the distinctive vocals of Adam Wheatley & slide guitarwork of Chris Eaton immediately catch the listeners ear.

'Knock Out' with some fine slide guitar giving the number a more bluesy flavour & even a country sound at times.

The frantic pace of the opening songs slows for 'Don't Make Me Cry' a more moody number, again features Chris's slide guitar work, the first pieces again have a more country sound, but in the latter stages of the song the blues returns.

Adam's deep almost gutteral vocals suit songs 'Don't Loose Control' down to the ground, & backed by fine instrumentation, this is the high point of this all original CD EP.

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'BLUES GONNA BE MY WAY' - THE MICK PINI BAND

(66-Records 66 - 9901 / 66CD01)

Mick's long awaited new CD has been released in good time for his 1999 British tour. Mick appeared regularly at venues in the East Midlands until he moved to Germany a couple of years ago, now audiences don't get the opportunity to see this underrated guitar master in action very often, more's the pity!

The CD opens with the instrumental warm-up track 'Avenue 54', featuring Julian Grudgings' hammond organ backing Mick's first guitar workout which draws to a close with the mournful guitar solo leading deftly into the band's version of Chuck Willis's 'I Feel So Bad'. Mick's bluesy vocals are complimented by his superb guitar work throughout, as well as the sensitive bass work of Graham Lacey.

Mick began his musical career around the same period as Peter Green, & his playing is at times similar to the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist's, this CD features two Peter Green songs, the third track 'Watch Out' being the first. The band's version of this classic is slower than the original, the pounding drums are more laid back here too. Now's probably a good time to mention that Mike Vernon who produced the Fleetwood Mac albums from which 'Watch Out' came has also produced this album some 30 years on, & guested on percussion.

Mick's music is very much in the mould of the blues, despite the 'Wildman' nickname you won't find him thrashing out blues rock, as the title of this album suggests blues gonna be Mick's way! He follows the Peter Green song with B.B. King's 'Woke Up This Morning'

There's a marked charge in tempo for 'Third Degree', soft piano & quietly played guitar provides a solemn background for a song about accusations - the suspect seems resigned to his fate, the third degree tactics claim another innocent man! The song showcases Mick's ability not only play flamboyant guitar solos that leave his audiences breathless, but to play those sensitive pieces that have people reaching for their pints! Surely the original Eddie Boyd / Willie Dixon version could have been no more haunting than this, just savour that guitar!

There's a cover of Roosevelt Sykes 'Driving Wheel' the abrupt ending comes a bit of a surprise. This is followed by the second Peter Green song 'Looking For Somebody' the title of the CD comes from a line in this song. Mick's vocals lend themselves especially to this style of blues & here especially his guitar playing is remarkably similar too!

'Last Night' is an interesting diversion, featuring some evocative harmonica work from an unnamed harp player, this Little Walter song adds to the solemn atmosphere of the CD's mood. Blues is most definitely Mick's way, if you enjoy the blues as the blues, this is the album for you,

Mick's own song 'Hard Times' follows, Mike Hellier's fine drumming provides the lively beat, the song seems to cast off the impending difficulties that are relayed in the lyrics.

'Like A Road' has a gospel feel, 'turn around, I'll be there, like a road leading home' the hard times, the sad times, the blues will soon be behind you, an uplifting song. There's some fine slide guitar work from special guest Al Sansome & this is followed by Mick's soulful guitar. Written by Dan Penn & Don Nix, Penn is better known for songs such as 'I'm Your Puppet' a hit for James & Bobby Purify & 'Do Right Woman' (Aretha Franklin), whilst Don Nix was a member of The Markeys who backed Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett & Sam & Dave. Seemingly a surprising choice for a Mick Pini Band album but one that works remarkably well!

As we started so we close, with an instrumental, Freddie King & Sonny Thompson's 'Wash Out'. Here the spirit & the guitar flies, & that's what the blues is about, OK times may be sad, but through the blues the spirit will soar once more. For those not touched by the blues, this point is often missed, the blues reflects life, but no-one wants to be unhappy all the time, the blues music came from people living in a harsh background, but Saturday nights they wanted to Boogie!

As always, Mick & the band are in great form on this album, which is only the band's fourth in 10 years, catch them in action at a venue near you during September (see Fizgig Blues listings for details), 'Blues Gonna Be My Way' will be available at gigs, but if you can't make any of these dates you can purchase a copy from Blumberg Records, 63 Priest Meadow, Fleckney, Leicester. LE 8 8 TZ, cheques for £13.50 made payable to Blumberg Records.

For further details E.mail the band via Movin.music@btinternet.com

To visit the band's website "Hit It!"

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SLIPSTREAM - 'HAUNTED'

(Large Portion Records)

Its a while since we saw the Stamford based band in action, then Slipstream were a good covers band with a grounding in rock blues. Whilst a lot of people prefer, nay demand songs that they know & can sing along with, the band have selected 8 original songs for their debut CD. Slipstream are D. John Forrow (electric & acoustic guitars / keyboards / harmonica + lead & backing vocals), Johnny Robottom (Electric & acoustic guitars + lead & backing vocals), Fraser Stockall (bass+ lead & backing vocals), Roland Wilson (drums & percussion), they are joined by guest sax player, David Whitehouse.

Opening with 'What is Done Is Done' a short rocking number, which is reminscent of Status Quo in parts, though the short guitar & sax breaks develop the basic sound. This is followed by 'She's With Me' a more mellow song with sax, & some fine guitar work & an unusual a cappella style vocal climax, with drum accompanyment.

'Blue For You' (nothing to do with Quo here though!) shows that while the band can rock with the best, they can also produce quality music at the midnight blues end of the spectrum. There's some jazzy guitar work to enjoy as well, yea Love it!

'Haunted' The title track ups the tempo, with keyboards & brass prominent the song has a modern American big band bluesy feel, reminding me a bit of Blue Law, an American act that featured Wishbone Ash guitarist Andy Powell a while back. (though probably few people have heard their music!) 'Blind To The Truth' a slower number, again with a modern blues style similar to Gary Moore, with some fine sax work from David.

'Ain't Got Nothin' But Love' is perhaps the story of a modern day musician 'ain't got no contract, ain't got me no deal' A modern day blues!

'Feels Too Right' here the band return to their rockier roots, though strangely one of the rock songs on the CD opens with that immortal blues opening 'woke up this morning!'

Bringing this 30 minute CD to a delightful close is 'Take Me Home' hard to catogorise, it has hints of blues & country, a very distinctive song centred around slide & acoustic guitars & harp, & quite different from the rest of the CD, like it!

'Haunted' is a well presented CD, the cover includes the words to the songs & various photos of the band in action at a local venue. The nicely balanced selection of songs should appeal to the band's many fans, & showcases their songwriting & musical abilities well. The addition of a sax player to the band's line up on the CD gives a new aspect to the band's sound, & is well suited to the material chosen for the recording.

The CD is available from gigs, for further info about Slipstream tel 01572 756308 (NB. new contact number).

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THE BUZZ - SMOKIN' BLUES!

The Buzz are a trio based in the East Midlands, featuring Rod Brattel on lead vocals, acoustic, electric & slide guitars & harmonicas, drummer & backing vocalist Iain Tait who joined the group after sitting in with the original Buzz duo when they played a gig at Spalding Blues Club a few years back & Andy Dance playing 4 & 5 string electric & acoustic basses & providing backing vocals. Unlike many of the counterparts The Buzz are equally at home playing uptempo rocking electric blues, or taking it right down low, performing sensititive acoustic blues numbers.

Their first CD release, a 20 minute EP released in the summer of 1999, entitled 'Smokin' Blues' features 5 tracks, including one original song. Intended primarily as a demo CD, though fans can purchase it at gigs, packaging is miministic, but musical quality isn't. It should be noted that some multi-tracking is employed giving the trio a slightly fuller sound than they can acheive in a live setting.

Obviously a feature of their live sets, the band have chosen three classic blues tracks as an introduction to their sound on this demo. Opening with a vibrant & impressive version of 'My Babe' (one of our favourite blues songs!), Rod Brattel's strong vocals come across very well, the harpwork is enjoyable too!

Drummer Ian Tait holds a tight rhythm with some fine brush work on the band's electro acoustic version of the country blues number 'C.C. Rider', with good slide guitar & harp from Rod to produce, for us our favourite song on the album.

Returning to the electric style, audience favourite 'Little Red Rooster' is well delivered.T The Buzz then slow the mood down with the less well known 'Sweet Mary', which adds a pleasing contrast to this CD.

The fifth & final track 'How Come?' an original song written by Rod Brattel, has some pleasant acoustic guitar & hamonica.

The quality of production is worthy of comment, the CD being recorded at GEMS studio, in the heart of the Lincolnshire fens. In the past heavy rock band Saxon recorded at the same studio, here though the production team shows it is capable of handling the subtler sounds of the blues too!

A promising, if not ground breaking debut CD from the band, the freshness of their presentation does show an obvious enjoyment of the music they play! The trio appear at London's Ain't Nothing But venue on Feb. 4th. Rating 7

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