Can’t Keep Still
A band from Essex with a roots flavor, fresh from opening for Blues/Soul stylist James Hunter and putting out this debut album following sessions at Big Noise Studios.
As with so many acts in this field, these sounds are always best appreciated live, here guitarist and singer Gary Porter tries to capture some of the group’s live bite in the studio with special emphasis on their main weapon, a three-man horn section (Dave Melling also plays keyboards) but using standup bass and drums. With these ingredients, you’d likely assume that we are in 50’s/60’s danceable r&b territory….and you’d be dead right.
Dancehall jive-beat starter ‘Ten Days’ gets the feet tapping – Porter’s vocal phrasing is strangely redolent of Elvis Costello minus the toppy whine so he therefore sounds closer to a young Mel Torme. This group are utterly adept at the springheeled rock/r&b sound these songs need – just listen to the smooth but grainy horn arrangement on ‘Don’t Wanna Work No More’ as the 50’s radio electric guitar weaves into the tune with an occasional lean on the whammy bar. How suited is Porter’s voice to these outings ? totally. He never shouts, sometimes he sounds a tad conspiratory but only where it suits.
Early 60’s ska tempo on ‘Emily’ makes it sound like a jukebox b-side, the sound is richer than the rather obvious song but it’s a pleasant listen, Adam Faith pizzicato strings and all and with a smooth tenor solo taking its time two minutes in.
‘Hanging On’ has that late-night ‘Misty’ vibe, again immaculately delivered. The key’s dead right for Gary’s pipes and the piano appropriate to the mood. ‘Can’t Keep Still’ is a back to Jamaica tempo job. ’River’ is a pacier number and probably my favourite on this set, the horns having a clipped-phrase pattern and the drumming lively.
Closer ‘Bridge Too Far’ is a good’un and again the horn arrangement is the star.
If 50’s and early 60’s rootsy pop/rock is your thing, it’s being played and sung exceptionally well here but it’s not really this listener’s bag. For a Sunday afternoon lounge show, just the job….OR they should open for Georgie Fame, I reckon !
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk