Combine elements of delta blues and folk, with sounds of eastern India, and you get the very idiosyncratic sound of Harry Manx on his first release, Dog My Cat. Using only a Lap Slide Guitar, Mohan Veena, and Harmonica, Harry Manx debut release has the characteristics of his world-renowned live show.
Harry Manx is no neophyte, but rather, a well-traveled connoisseur of blues. Born on the Isle of Man, Manx moved to Canada as a child, only to return to Europe in the late 70's where he worked as a lap slide guitarist and songwriter at many festivals. Manx moved to Japan where he lived and performed for 10 a year stint. It was while in Japan, Harry was introduced to a recording by an Indian slide-guitar player by the name of V.M. Bhatt. After contacting Bhatt, he moved to India where he would study under, and perform with, the Mohan Veena (a sitar-guitar cross) virtuoso for five years.
Cat My Dog is the result of Manx many travels and years of preparation and training. Harry's vocals are well traveled, yet not rough, while his playing is multifaceted, yet straightforward. With vivacious slide work and unpretentious harp playing, Harry Manx covers the obscure blues standard "Can't Be Satisfied" to kick off the recording with a stylish sophistication.
With a Mohan Veena intro, the Eastern influence come into play on the track "Rueben's Train", where Manx successfully combines an array of styles on this traditional folk ballad with the result of making it his own.
Jimmy Reed's "Shame Shame Shame" and the classic "Baby Please Don't Go" are both straight ahead acoustic driven blues cuts chalk full of savory harmonica riffs.
In addition to the four covers on this recording, Manx showcases his song writing abilities for most of the disc. Much like the legendary Tom Waits, Harry is a storyteller. Using metaphors is an essential element to Manx's writing. "Bring That Thing" features pleading lyrics as it intermingles folk and blues for an agreeable and unique sound.
Given Harry Manx's extensive musical background, it is no surprise that his maiden release, Dog My Cat, would be so diverse in content. Drawing on his many influences, Manx delivers an eclectic assortment of material, which is yet just another example of the evolution of music and more notably the progression of the Blues.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tony Engelhart, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.