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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Reviews: Simon McBride, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Simpson

Simon McBride: Since Then (Nugene Records)

There is a list of new Blues Rock players that have followed the legacy of the greats; Walter Trout, Popa Chubby, Ollie Brown and of course Joe Bonamassa. Well it's time to add Irishman Simon McBride to that list, he possesses the chops and licks that equals or are superior to the others on the list. His playing is great both understated and equally technical, he produces light and shade mixing acoustically melodic blues with great hard rocking guitar lines and speedy soloing. McBride's voice is also very good there are elements of Bonamassa (as there is in his playing style) but he has a gruffer voice that melds Cormac Neeson of The Answer and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. However despite McBride's technical chops this album is built upon solid song writing the opener Take My Hand is pure heavy riff rock, The Promise is a great blues ballad filled with emotion drenched guitar playing. The highlight of the album is Devil's Road which has an almost trance like vibe that backs McBride's guitar playing, the lyrical content features the well-worn tale of Robert Johnson's supposed deal with the Devil but the song is a great almost trance/blues boogie that moves into the last track which is an instrumental work out. This album is more than just a good blues rock album this a great straight up rock album that doesn't limit itself to convention. Top Class. 9/10

Marshall Tucker Band: Greatest Hits (Ramblin Records)

The Marshall Tucker Band are American music legends whose popularity was never felt this side of the Atlantic. However mainly because of Black Stone Cherry's cover of Can't You See on their new album the band are experiencing a boost in popularity. This Greatest Hits features just that and is the first to be readily available in the UK. The band are not the Southern Rock you would think they were, they are more of an amalgamation of The Eagles, The Allman Brothers and Jethro Tull. They are equal parts folk, country, blues and rock. The majority of the songs come from their first few albums and the majority are driven by the subtle guitar of Toy Caldwell and the vocals of Doug Gray. Many of the songs are based on a country style beat that is then expanded with horns, Saxes or flutes from hidden gem Jerry Eubank. This is a great collection of songs that are equal parts rock, country and everything in between. It would be well worth seeking out this band and discovering why they are so popular across the pond. 8/10

Charlie Simpson: Young Pilgrim (NUSIC)

Charlie Simpson is the vocalist and guitarist of melodic, prog influenced Post-hardcore group Fightstar (and former member of pop muppets Busted) this however is his first solo album. Taking a break from his heavier day job this album is mostly acoustic and is in the singer-songwriter style. The album is equal parts pop and folk, however unlike other Singer Songwriters there is an overarching sense of gloom that comes through the poppy melodies. Simpson's voice is as ever heartfelt and wrought with emotion and his playing and song craft is beautiful. This maybe a departure from what he's known for but it is great in its own way. 8/10       

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