"Crackin' Under Pressure" is a debut release of top Greek blues band "Nick & The Backbone" that definitely deserve wider exposure among blues fans anywhere. It's a vibrant, exciting collection of original material by the band's leader Nick Dounoussis who is regarded as a master of the "Stratocaster" in the best tradition of Texas blues. There's a rock edge to his material, but these are the blues taken to extreme: tough, dimamond-hard, occasionally vulnerable and sometimes surprisingly joyful. Band's debut CD shows what a crackin' tight unit they are as a result of countless gigs from small clubs to stadiums, backing some big name US bluesmen on Greek tours. Nick Dounoussis is one of the best guitarists I've heard and by that I don't mean Europe only! His playing is uncanny as he effortlessly tosses in accents and twisting phrases every which way but loose, unleashing stinging volleys of notes one minute and executing soulful bends the next. His playing evokes the likes of Texas blues masters Freddie King and Stevie Ray Vaughan and unlike the others, he doesn't try to copy them note for note, his approach is an original one.
Of special interest to blues fans is a rare appearance of the legendary Nick Gravenites who lends his vocal expertise on three tracks! "Just A Little Time" is a CD opener, an uptempo rocker with plenty of blistering guitar work which sets the tone for the whole CD, while "Blades" is a stop-time funky instrumental that will keep the fans of early Stevie Ray Vaughan happy. "Ridin' With The Blues" is an easy going shuffle with cool vocal delivery courtesy of Nick Gravenites! CD's title track is a rocking cut with evocative lyrics which reflect Nick Dounoussis' feelings on the recent Balkan wars, showing how flexible we, the humans, are. Track includes again some exceptional guitar work and cohesive band sound. Mr. Gravenites sings "You Don't Want To Mess With Me," which actually is a re-working of Jimmy Reed's "You Don't Have To Go" and is a fine shuffle too, while "Slow Down" could easily put a smile on every Texas roadhouse visitor with its rocking rhythm and good-time feeling. CD closes with Nick's poignant blues ballad "Heaven's Gate" as a fitting tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan with beautiful lyrics: "Heaven's gate please open wide, and accept this man tonight, keep him safe until we follow, to thank him for the love he shared." Add some fine guitar and you'll have one of the best SRV tributes you'll ever hear.
This is a class debut, check it out! For more info contact Nick at: firstname.lastname@example.org or his site www.nickandthebackbone.com or contact his label at email@example.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Vasja Ivanovski, and Blues On Stage, 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.
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