So. What can I tell you about the "Upper Hillside Blues Revue"? Not a lot actually. Unless he/she is moonlighting from a day job with the Pinkerton Agency, promo CDs that come with no insert and a label stating only a band name and title are not generally perceived by reviewers as making the task in hand any easier. These guys don't even seem to have a website.
I can tell you that "Today's Blues" is a 6 track promo from what sounds like a 3 or 4 piece crew (depending on whether the singer wields a guitar or not) and a little sniffing around determines them as hailing from Dayton, Ohio. Trivia hounds will be disappointed to hear, however, that that's about it by way of background.
Fortunately, the music on the CD is rather less anonymous. It doesn't so much speak for itself as kind of glare at you, daring you to badmouth it in any way. Things kick off with a strong opener in "Talk of the Town." Initially reminiscent of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, a scatter gun drum intro grabs you by the collar and drags you through what turns out to be a blueprint for each of the 5 remaining tracks, said blueprint being frenetic and pleasingly sparse riff-heavy rock.
Next up is "Blue Ale," it's swaggering, loping guitar sounding like undiluted Stevie Ray Vaughan. However, the band's guitarist clearly having been a very big man on campus at the University of Hendrix, it's Jimi's rather than Stevie's ghost that's to be found shouting boo! across much of the rest of the CD. There's also a strong whiff of early 70s ZZ Top here and there, harking back to the days before the weird beards started fooling around with click-tracks and all that high gloss production.
This far into the CD the cards are well and truly down on the table and it's clear which way things are heading. All booze-breath and ati-chood,"Tap the Keg," "Wake my Lover," and "The Vulture" (don't'cha love these titles?) continue shoving you further toward the door until the closing "Drop of a Dime" finally puts you right back through it and out onto your ass in the street.
The Hillsides don't try to hide their influences but neither are they a pastiche. Unreconstructed, unrepentant and (as far as I know) unsigned. No doubt a great club band, "Today's Blues" shows that they're also able to generate a good live buzz in the studio too, the one important trick that often separates the wheat from the chaff in this game. Good stuff.
Contact for more information : www.jasonwillis.8m.com (no info. posted at time of writing)
Your purchase through this Amazon.com link helps to support this website.
You can now order other CDs, books, and videos from Blues On Stage in association with Amazon.com. Simply click on the logo at the left and shop! They have some of the best prices on the web and even offer some used product at lower prices.
"This review is copyright © 2003 by Mark Lloyd-Selby, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without permission."
Copyright reuse notice: If you would like to reprint or use this review please include the above copyright notice, contained within the quotation marks, PLUS this statement: "Used with permission." Then send an email to Ray at: email@example.com indicating how you are using the review or the website page address it will be appearing on. Thanks!
You can help support this blues website by making a contribution (click on the banner below for details).
Or mail a donation to: Ray Stiles % Blues On Stage, PO Box 582983, Mpls, MN 55458. Thanks!
Web Design SPECIAL, get your own website for just $50.
Web Hosting & Design:
Web Hosting & Design.
Most affordable web hosting and design services available.
Find out how you can host your current site at Blues On Stage, or how I can help you design your own website!
If you would like your CD reviewed, please send TWO (2) copies, along with promotional material to:
Blues On Stage
PO Box 582983
Minneapolis, MN 55458-2983
E-mail Ray Stiles @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.