Blues is used to sell everything these days, from beer to dishwashing detergent. The basic 12-bar structure is instantly and universally recognizable. So why do so many so-called blues bands insist on venturing off into rock and funk and pop?
Thatís not a problem with Dave Glover, a.k.a. Big Daddy G. His debut disc is a solid, unpretentious slice of blues and nothiní but. Dave, a native of Whitby, has been cranking out the hard-core stuff since his teens, when he fell under the spell of the three Kings - Freddie, Albert, and B.B. "4 Blues" features Dave on guitar along with his partner, Tortoise Blue, on both harp and Hammond. A crack band - Bruce Brooker on drums, Darryl Peterson on bass, with a special appearance by Calgaryís Johhny V on slide - rounds things out nicely.
And since Daveís the first to admit that heís no singer, heís brought in a series of guest vocalists that each bring a wealth of experience and a unique approach to their chosen tunes. And what guests they are - Joe Toole, formerly of the Phantoms, lends his powerful pipes to 5 songs; the legendary Hock Walsh (the original voice of Downchild) makes a rare appearance to spin a couple of numbers; Gord Fogle, a long-time friend of Daveís, sings sweet and soulful on three, and local whiz Rob Chorney (a.k.a. Little Bobby) swings hard on the opener. The result? A solid collection with a refreshing variety that brings to mind a friendly jam among skilled and seasoned veterans.
But blues is also a pretty fundamental form that hasnít changed a whole lot for many years. Without some extra spark, itís easy to fall into the "ho hum - heard it all before" category. So just what is it that makes this one special? In a world where most discs come across as "product," Big Daddy Gís stands out as a labor of love. Heís not doing this to fulfill contractual obligations, and heís not sleepwalking his way through half-hearted covers of songs someone thinks will sell. This disc fairly bursts with heart and soul, and Dave has chosen the material with care; there are a few familiar standards, but most of the tunes are lesser-known gems from the likes of Muddy, Willie Dixon, T-Bone, and Bobby Bland.
Daveís own playing is refreshingly "wank-free" - there are no overindulgent, endless solos here, just tight, economical statements that make their point with taste and restraint. Heís been around enough to know that what you donít play is just as important as what you do. But when the timeís right, he really can cut loose - check his work on "Five Long Years," one of those classic slow numbers that really separate the players from the pretenders. And if that doesnít do it, smokiní covers of both Freddie King and Albert Collins instrumentals ought to prove that heís not just working on it - heís arrived!
Which brings us back to Tortoise Blue - you canít talk about the Big Daddy G band without mentioning Daveís musical soul-mate. His harp work is unfailingly tasteful, and heís got that full, fat tone all harp players dream of but few ever achieve. (Live, the guyís simply incredible - Iíve been playing harp for over 20 years, and Iíve heard him do things I would have said were out-and-out impossible!!! How heís remained relatively unknown is a mystery to me - catch him if you can!) And his swinging B3 grooves propel the band into groove heaven.
Recorded at Durhamís own Chalet Studios, Big Daddy Gís initial outing is an excellent disc by any standards. If youíre a blues fan, you canít live without it; if not, give it a try - you just might find yourself converted to the cause!
Big Daddy G
701 Rossland Rd East
Canada L1N 9K3
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Note - Big Daddy G's CD is available on Amazon.com
This review is copyright © 2000 by John Taylor, 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.