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Issue 1090

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Review

Oli Brown: Songs From The Road (CD & DVD) Ruf Records

Oli Brown CD Cover Pic

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UK release date 05.08.2013

A lot has been said about young Oli. Every superlative you could possibly imagine about âgun slingersâ and âprotégéâ guitarists has been hurled at Master Brown, since he blasted onto the scene back in 2008 with his debut album âOpen Roadâ. Much of the praise justified, some of it completely OTT.

I am not going into all of his history here, because if you really have no clue who he is, then I am unsure why youâd be reading a blues review in the first place. But check him out on You Tube if that is the case, and if he floats your boat, go get this CD/DVD package. Heâs young, heâs British, he has lots of curly hair, he plays a mean blues guitar, he sings, he writes songs, he pulls lot of faces on stage. He is bloody loud!

He won some awards, was never out of the blues press and did almost all there was to do on the UK blues club and festival circuit over a four year period, but ran out of road. His second album, produced by legendary blues producer Mike Vernon really put Oli on the map. His third album, "Here I Am" was number one in the Amazon, HMV and iTunes blues charts, released in the US in June 2012. Not sure if it sold as well as the first two though.

Since then, he parted company with his UK management, moved to Canada and dropped off the radar somewhat. I am not actually sure what he is up to over there, aside from some low key bread and butter gigs. He has just been out around Europe as support to Joe Satriani, I know that, and I think some support slots for Johnny Winter too.

This is a nine track CD and 13 songs on the DVD, captured live in his home town of Norwich (I am desperate to shout loudly 'Aha' Partridge style right now,) on 16th December 2012. The Waterfront was the venue, and he dug into all three of his album releases to give fans and the audio and visual recording crew his best material.

From the debut album he delivers âStone Cold.â From the 2010 CD âHeads I Win, Tails You Lose,â and âSpeechless.â From last yearâs âHere I Am,â he performs âThinking About Her,â âManic Bloom,â and âDevil In me.â There are new songs too, such as âLove Is Taking Its Toll." So this set is not just about tracing his rise to blues fame, but also giving out the message that âI ain't done yet.â

He is joined by his solid power trio of Wayne Proctor on drums and Scott Barnes on bass, who both sing backing vocals. Produced by Ruf Records boss, Thomas Ruf. I am not really sure what else to say about it or about Oli. If you like your blues on the heavier side, loud and rocking, and you appreciate a young talent showing off in front of family and friends on home turf, then this is for you. If you are already a fan, then this is a must have and you will not be disappointed.

I caught Oli live when his band opened for John Mayall, and was impressed with his maturity and skill, but at the same time it was a little too rock for me and not enough blues.

I do not think his song-writing is yet of the same standard as his guitar playing, which is an observation not a criticism. Probably the strongest material is the co-writes with Telecaster supremo Ron Sayer. Oli is young (23) and developing all the time. So just three records in, thereâs plenty of time for him to nail that side of things and co-write with more and more experienced songwriters, especially Stateside. As he has changed management, he has changed agents, he has moved overseas and seems to have gone from hot, hot, hot headline act to a series of support slots and treading water, I wonder what the future holds for the rest of his career? I wonder if there will be any further Ruf Records releases with Oliâs curly hair on the front cover? A future Provogue artist signing perhaps, alongside the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Jonny Lang? We will see..............
Words SIMON REDLEY

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