The Deluxe Blues Band
Blues Amongst Friends - The Deluxe Blues Package
Blues Leaf (2003) BL 9820
2 CDs, 20 tracks, 79 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: September 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
While blues from Britain has indeed enjoyed a lengthy history with artists the caliber of Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies, John Mayall, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and more, it's doubtful that The Deluxe Blues Band ever caused anyone to completely forget the aforementioned players. Granted, bassist Bob Brunning has played a rather large role over the years in several bands, but this two-disc set proves the shortcomings of this long-established outfit. Although formed in 1981, the two recording sessions that combine this set reach only as far back as 1995 (disc one) and 1997 (disc two). The first part of the twin-pack starts off healthily with Paul Lamb delivering some rousing harp on
Lambpoon and Otis Grand steps out to hand in a sizzling guitar solo in the Otis Rush nugget, All Your Love, but Phil Taylor's voice is simply too light and polite to threaten the proceedings as evidenced in the somewhat boring Rambler's Blues. Grand offers a nod to both Earl Hooker and Ronnie Earl (definite influences) during Elevator Blues (pretty much Hooker's Blues In D Natural that Ronnie has played for years), but the errant recording levels are disturbing, and Taylor's vocal affectations are annoying at best in the otherwise rippling Dead Cat On The Line.
Sonny Boy Williamson II's Peach Tree or Willie Dixon's 300 Pounds Of Joy and Hoochie Coochie Man don't fare much better, but the worst moments in disc one occur during Taylor's vocal strangulation of Neighbor, Neighbor. Disc two is far better with Russell Baillie handling vocal duties, and he proves himself to be a solid songwriter as well over the mostly original set. Standouts include Really Love My Baby (musically akin to Little Walter's Up The Line), Cool Operator, and the potent Drop Dead. Dick-Heckstall Smith offers some
fine horn parts, although his squawking in Heatwave seems to be more about noodling. Special mention goes to Bill Smith for greasy harp, but Brunning is the only familiar name over the two separate recording dates as personnel changed drastically. Just why it was necessary to issue this as a 2-CD set isn't quite clear since Taylor's voice is painfully grating through most of disc one aside from Rush's All Your Love. Had this been pared down into a single CD, it would have been far more attractive and easier to digest but the inexpensive retail price will be appealing. www.bluesleaf.com has
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