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Issue 1088

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Review

Eddie Martin Big Blues Band: Looking Forward To Looking Back (Blueblood Records)

Eddie Martin CD Cover Pic

9

6.3

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UK release date 18.06.2012

If you didnât know it, this cool cat is British. He has an authentic yesteryear US sound and can play a mean guitar, sing with the best of âem and writes a very good tune. A fixture of the blues circuit, but far more to the man that that. Eddie has a career spanning 12 albums, is a multi instrumentalist and prolific songwriter.

The opener is a tad James Hunter in style, which is fine by me. âFrog In The Long Grass,â is a familiar sounding song but written by Eddie, as are all 14 tracks here. One co-penned with JB Horns star Pee Wee Ellis. The whole album is drenched in classic horn sounds and very fine playing/arrangements.

âSorry For The Rain,â features blistering slide guitar channeling Elmore James. âWannabe Me,â reminds me of Georgie Fame at his best, again featuring Eddieâs remarkably authentic and fluid blues licks. No one in the UK sounds like him. This track has a real swing-blues feel to it and a great groove. Four in we get a cracker, âLet It Slide,â which is punctuated by punchy horns, features an exciting slide solo and some cheesy retro organ. The songâs structure and horn parts remind me of something else that I just cannot put my finger on, like a few others on the CD.

âTough Times,â combines Chuck Berry with Glenn Miller and Cab Calloway, if thatâs possible! He tells us âYou canât play the blues if you canât feel the groove,âon the track âSupermodel.â Some fine distorted harmonica playing from Eddie on this one, and a chilled organ solo from the talented John Paul Gard.There are big nods to âBig Noise From Winnetka,â in this tune.

The title track is a very nice slow blues, with Eddie donning his Johnny Guitar Watson hat in fine style. The horns earn their keep too. âZombie Attack,â is fun and âSheâs A He,â about a close encounter in a hotel room, will definitely raise a smile!

âFunky Too,â the sole instrumental features a controlled solo from Pee Wee Ellis, the co-writer of the song. Not the strongest track in this collection, a little unsure of itself and bit of a raw jam. Pee Weeâs horn arrangement on this one, of course.

Eddieâs major influences Johnny Guitar Watson, T Bone Walker and Elmore James, plus his love of big band blues, shines through on this very enjoyable, very entertaining 57 minute album. Breathing new life into the blues, but respect and affection for what has come before, specially the sounds of the 40s and 50s.

The band played live to tape on vintage gear, commandeering a Bristol social club dance hall for the recording sessions. Production is unfussy, solid and assured. Eddieâs vocal holds the attention and fits the material. I canât help feeling he is capable of much more vocally, and the majority of the songs do not push him or challenge him to deliver that bit extra. Perhaps a lot more focus on the guitar and the overall sound, than the vocal.

This is not a major criticism at all, as his vocal is still of a high standard. More an observation really, because this album is pretty special. Think Roomful of Blues with a world class guitarist. Must get to see the man live, as I have a feeling he knows how to throw a real good party.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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