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Friday, April 6, 2012

Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers 2007 Long Distance Call

Genre: Blues
Rate: 320 kbps CBR / 44100
Time: 01:11:16
Size: 162,99 MB

United States


Throughout the 90's the blues has continued to grow in popularity, it's success due in no short measure to the wealth of talent that has emerged on the West Coast of America, which produces a seemingly endless supply of talented harp players and guitarists, whose music effortlessly melds classic Chicago blues with the swing and jump blues that proliferated in the Los Angeles and Bay areas throughout the late 40's and most of the 50's, resulting in a form of blues that breaks down stylistic barriers, appealing to a broad spectrum of blues lovers, whatever their personal musical persuasion. There are several characteristics that link these artists, namely their ability to reproduce 'live' what you hear on their recordings (in fact their live performances when inspired by an enthusiastic audience, often outstrip their studio sets), original material that pays it's respects to tradition but is relevant to today, both lyrically and musically, and a sense of fun, recognizing that blues is a form of entertainment, music to dance to and enjoy, as well as an emotional expression of pain, frustration and sadness.

One of the bands that has been pioneering this approach to the blues, with a series of critically acclaimed releases on their own Blues Rock label, and live performances guaranteed to raise the temperature in any bar or club, are Sacramento's Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers. On stage Mick, who was turned on to the blues by British R&B bands of the 60's, projects an imposing persona, with a frame to match his huge personality, one minute booming out a hard rocking blues, the next reaching deep into his soul to deliver a lyric with a poignancy and depth that reflects his admiration of the artists who pioneered the tough Chicago and swinging West Coast blues that were such a major influence on his music, whilst in his harp playing you can hear echoes of artists as diverse as Larry Adler and Sonny Boy Williamson. Although Mick's name is the one that 'fronts' the group, the Blues Rockers are no 'one man band', for in Tim Barnes, (ex Stoneground and Fabulous Flames), they have a guitarist whose eccentricity is the perfect foil for Mick's innate sense of fun as he gyrates around the stage like a demented 'blues' hybrid of Rod Stewart and Steve Marriott, complete with head band, cowboy boots and spurs, ripping out some of the wildest and bluesiest licks you are ever likely to hear, while the band is anchored by Barnes' long time associate Steve Schofer on bass, a musician who has that uncanny knack of remaining almost 'invisible' whilst laying down the driving, funky and inventive bass patterns that are essential to the Blues Rockers' sound, and the wonderful Jerry Banks, a man whose impeccable timing and innate sense of rhythm has graced the blues of artists like Omar Shariff and the gospel of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, and is a man who I consider one of the top three blues drummers working today.

I have painted a picture of the band and it's varied musical influences to give you an insight into their music, for if you are familiar with their previous recordings, you will know that one of the band's strengths is the ability of Mick and Tim to write original material that respects and retains the feel of the traditional roots of the blues, but laces it with jazz, R&B, rock and soul, to widen it's appeal by making it more relevant to a potentially 'new' blues audience. However, for "Long Distance Call", the band decided to pay homage to their major blues influences by recording songs that are readily associated with them, songs that form an integral part of the Blues Rockers' live sets, where the audience often demands a smattering of standards 'Sweet Home Chicago', 'The Blues Is Alright' et al, for what has become affectionately known as 'blues karaoke'. But don't be fooled by the choice of songs, because this band is never derivative as they mix and match their influences to give each number a new and distinctive feel, the only concessions they make being on Ray Charles' 'Hallelujah, I Love Her So' and Willie Dixon's 'Got To Love You Baby', where Mick unashamedly uses the Blues Band's arrangements as a tribute to his admiration of Paul Jones whose harp playing he describes as "peerless in Britain in my book".

'Crosscut Saw / Just A Little Bit' opens this set, the guitar, bass and drums giving it a funky edge, although it still remains rooted firmly in the blues; 'Call My Job' is fired by an hypnotic guitar riff, Mick laying down Jimmy reed styled harp (originally taught to him by Rick Estrin), over the funky bass patterns, making it inevitable, as it would be in a live performance, that this number would segue into a Reed classic, in this case 'Big Boss Man', before moving through Lee Dorsey's 'Working In A Coalmine' and returning to the original song. Elmore James is represented by two numbers, 'Talk To Me Baby' and 'The Sky Is Crying', the former given a lighter, more up-tempo swinging feel accentuated by Tim Barnes' guitar licks, that owe more to Freddie King than they do to Elmore James, and Banks' superlative drumming, while the latter, fired by Schofer's driving bass, finds Barnes taking over the vocal duties, his raw blues shouting, allied to his wild guitar, which again shows a strong Freddie King influence but this time laced with snatches of Jimi Hendrix, proves the perfect foil for Martin's soulful harp, giving the song a whole new twist. Muddy Waters, who Mick describes as "my favourite (bluesman) and greatest inspiration" is represented by two numbers, the title track long Distance Call', which is given that distinctive West Coast / Chicago feel, by adding a touch of swing to lessen the intensity of the original and adding George Smith styled harp, although Barnes' stinging slide is appropriately dirty, and 'I'm Ready' which features Jerry Banks on vocals, with Tim Barnes guitar showing shades of another Martin favourite, Peter Green. 'Back Door Man' serves a dual purpose, paying homage to Howling Wolf, but played in a style that reflects Mick's indebtedness to the Rolling Stones, complete with Sugar Blue inspired harp, whose version of 'Little Red Rooster' was the catalyst that turned him on to Chicago Blues. O.V. Wright's 'Don't Let My Baby Ride' mixes Jimmy Reed and Southern soul, while 'Wall To Wall' is a funky outing featuring the ever improving vocals of Jerry Banks, but the band couldn't complete this set without featuring two Mick Martin originals, but even then they pay their respects to their musical mentors, Little Walter and Rick Estrin on the rocking 'Tougher Than Life' and Jim Liban, harp player and song writer, whose band AB Skhye formed the blueprint for the present Blues Rockers, on the driving 'Stop Breaking My Heart'.

Roll back the carpets, pour yourself a large shot of whiskey, slip this CD into your player a get ready to party as Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers take you on a roller coaster ride through the blues of their mentors, but played, unmistakably, the Blues Rockers' way.


01 - Crosscut Saw - Just A Little Bit 04:28

02 - Call My Job 05:57

03 - Hallelujah, I Love Her So 03:40

04 - Talk To Me Baby (I Can't Hold Out) 04:36

05 - The Sky Is Crying 07:26

06 - Dimples 04:49

07 - Wall To Wall 05:27

08 - Back Door Man 04:05

09 - Don't Let My Baby Ride 05:29

10 - Tougher Than Life 03:10

11 - Long Distance Call 06:40

12 - I'm Ready 04:48

13 - Stop Breaking My Heart 04:52

14 - Got To Love You Baby 05:49

Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers here:



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