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Blue To Brown

Photo: Bread And Shutter

Blue To Brown

Remedy Records

From the off, with strident pinched-note electric guitar over a throbbing bassline and steady Texas drums, this band sound like they mean business. When the dark brown of singer Rob Brown cuts in to sing ‘Blue Boy’ the hypnotic group sound is established and as the Hammond floats the bridge and the guitar cruises back spitting out phrases, you sense that this album will bring something fresh to the bluesrock world. Pleasingly they don’t just mine the sort of gritty shufflin’ blues that rolls out of Houston or Austin – in fact the material here travels to Noo Awleenz and Chicago and just about everywhere else on the blues map.

And all this from perhaps an unlikely pairing of father and son – Rob Brown has sung roots music for many years but you have heard his voice if you’re in the UK on many adverts for radio and TV and also as TV station announcer / linkman / voiceover man, whilst offspring Dom Brown has a solo career plus sideman experience and studio expertise BUT can also be enjoyed as guitarist and material contributor to veteran rock/pop band Duran Duran.The latter may have little need for acoustic slide guitar but check Dom’s feel for that instrument on the lament ‘Bad Boy’ while dad growls out the warning / story  ;  ‘Going Down But Not Slow’ is a twist on the ageworn blues theme, tongue in both cheeks,

Time to mention the star cohorts in the band, variously from Primal Scream, Whitesnake, Faithless, James Morrison’s road band – all named on the album and playing roots music with great feel and skill.  It’s a busy sound on stage (as I know from guesting with them) but retains that mean edge in performance and in the studio. Purposeful without sounding mechanical, I suppose you could fairly say.

Fine and flowing guitar breaks abound, often betraying the influence of Buddy Guy but the group is not just a show-off platform for Dom Brown. His volume control swells imitate a violin on dark tread ‘I Get Loaded’ as he builds through different phrases into virtual Jeff Beck hammer-on territory, the band piling on the tension to the coda.  Rob’s vocal quirkiness is shown on ‘Talking Blues’ and ‘The Heat has Gone’. Not to mention the blissful progression of ‘Please Please’ with its lovely joint-vocal melody. He gets close to the mighty Captain Beefheart’ on closer  ‘Love Another Day’, which evokes Taj Mahal in its rickety beat and has a cool upwards turnaround.

Skilled, yes and varied yes…but stale no. Unsurprising that their appeal in alive setting cuts across both sexes and all ages, a contemporary bluesrock band NOT just for other players

Pete Sargeant

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