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Issue 1090

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Review

Little Devils: Diamonds & Poison (Little Devils Music)

Little Devils CD cover pic

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UK release date 01.05.2012

If you like raw, enthusiastic, English-sounding blues that take you back to the hey day of the â70s London pub/club RnB scene, and iconic venues such as The Hope and Anchor and The Marquee, you may want to give a shekel or two to your local record shop (if you are lucky enough to still have one that is?) Or go all modern, and download the current offering from Little Devils.

âDiamond & Poison,â is the latest CD from popular London band Little Devils, who were formed in 2010 and have built up a solid reputation on the UK blues circuit. They play what they call â21st century blues â new shoots from old roots.â

Their PR blurb tells us it is âthe sounds of good times & bad times, highs & lows â the noises of rattling & banging against the broken doors of yesterday with a wake-up call for tomorrow â songs from the new dust bowl.â Dunno âbout that, but I do know this album is a pretty even listen, and for me has one real stand-out song. More on that in a bit.

In 2010 they released their first CD "This Is How It Startsâ¦,â which was well received. They won "Best Live Band" in the Playmusic Magazine Awards in 2011. This year they were finalists in the New Brunswick Battle of the Blues 2012, for a coveted spot at the acclaimed Canadian blues festival. They landed their own residency at Soho venue âAin't Nuthinâ But â¦.â They have opened for Matt Schofield, Alabama 3, The Pogues etc at various gigs around the UK.

This 11-track album was mastered by Pink Floydâs sound engineer Andy Jackson. It has a retroâ analogue feel to it, even if it was probably recorded on Pro Tools or some other computer-based digital skulduggery.

Yoka âThe Dutch Divaâ takes lead vocal duties. She has real attitude and gives it some vocal welly. From the Netherlands, a proâ singer with experience in jazz, blues and rock, and an accomplished flute player. Vivienne Soan on saxophone, is cousin of legendary music producer Gus Dudgeon. She has played with many big names, including David Gilmore, Richard Thompson, BJ Cole and Billy Bragg. Spike is on lead guitars, Graeme Wheatley is on bass and the bandâs main songwriter. Bill Austin provides drums and backing vocals.

So, to this song I mentioned earlier. Track three, âBlack Diamonds.â Written by Graham and Blue Bishops singer/guitarist/harp player and main songwriter, Geoff Grange. The same song that features on the Bishopsâ latest album, âIn The Red,â (produced by John Leckie,) but a very different version to this one. The song itself is a magnificent piece of the song-writing craft, and Iâd bet my hamster on there being more covers of this in the future. It was featured on BBC TV, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Easington Pit Disaster, where 83 miners died. Grahamâs grandfather was the only survivor, having lost his brother in the disaster. The song has been played on Paul Jones' BBC Radio 2 Blues show.

A haunting and dramatic piece, with hard-hitting lyrics:
âLook at the wheel on the hill, beneath a mighty hole
Where many lived and many died to open seams of coal
Bob Noble went down one day, they never brought him back
They closed the seam and wrote the names upon a heroâs plaque
And at the end of a dirty working day, you pick up your pay
And kiss the black diamonds.â You should hear BOTH versions.

Little Devils have been described as: âJoplin meets Jefferson Airplane and The Butterfield Blues Band.â Not by me, but it has been said. So, best make your own mind up about that one, when you give this CD a listen and help a hard-working, energetic, independent UK band to keep the blues alive - and breath a bit of 21st century air into its lungs.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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