Scandinavian band Dr Bendix formed in 1999. They take their name from band leader, Kjell Bendixen, who writes most of the songs, as well as singing, playing guitar, harp and strings! On their debut album, "Life Is A Rocky Road," they pull together a wide range of influences that encompass blues, jazz, rock'n'roll and heavy rock.
The album opens with "Just A Little Boy." It hints at ZZ Top, and has some
busy harp in the John Popper mode. In fact, comparisons with Blues Traveler are not totally unwarranted. The main difference is that Dr Bendix are more from the blues/rock school than BT. Maybe ZZ Top meets Blues Traveler... "Charisma Blues" throws another fly in the ointment, however, where some nice swampy slide dominates the introduction to what is essentially a boogie.
The album's main flaw comes on track three. It starts with a heavy intro before mellowing out into "Sitting At The Dock Of The Bay" (sic). It is one of the all time classic songs, and most people know that they cannot do it justice, so they do not even try. Unfortunately, Dr Bendix do give it a shot, and they even add a rock guitar solo in the middle. Shame, really, because, even the album had been shaping up quite well.
Fortunately the band revert to more familiar territory for "Rush Up Mama." It features more of the murky slide guitar sound on a tune that tips a nod in the direction of Elmore James. It is not the last tune to do so either, as the band go on to cover "I Ain't Gonna Dust My Broom No More" which takes its tune from "Dust My Broom" (which was really a Robert Johnson song).
Elsewhere the band sojourn into mellow, more AOR territory on "A Feather From An Angel" and even veer towards Status Quo(!) with "Happiest Man." Their best moments, however, always come when they stick to what they do best. In other words, rocking boogie, as exemplified by "Tears of Life," and the almost jazzy "Good Time Feeling" (from the Allman Brothers songbook). The album closes out in a similar vein, and close to where we came in with "She's A Lady of The Nite" another that borrows a little from ZZ Top territory.
"Life Is A Rocky Road" offers something for those who like rock with their blues, and mostly like it served at a warm (boogie) tempo. If you like ZZ Top, then chances are you will find something to enjoy in the works of Dr Bendix. When the band try to get mellower, they do not sound as good, however, and the reworking of "(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay" is a real minus. If Dr Bendix came on the radio, would I turn it off? Probably not (with one exception). Try before you buy.
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