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Issue 1088

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Review

Paul Lamb & The Detroit Breakdown: Take It From The Top (EE Records/Code7)

Paul Lamb & The Detroit Breakdown

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UK release date 05.05.2014

This was in a huge pile of new CDs to go through. I was wondering where Paul Lambâs trademark harmonica was, as I got to the end of track one. Schoolboy error; itâs the OTHER Paul Lamb. The Detroit Breakdown Paul Lamb and not the King Snakes Paul Lamb.

Start again Redley..... US-based and Detroit-born Paul Lambâs latest album, his fifth, is a collection of 'the best of three' previous albums and a track from an EP. It will mainly appeal to fans of the harder end of the blues, the rock side of the business.

They tour here regularly (are here now in May and June) and have a loyal growing UK following. This year, nominated in the âBest Overseas Artistâ category in the British Blues Awards 2014. âTake It From The Top,â is a compilation of the songs that have gained the most radio spins, and those that are the most requested live. Re-mastering was in the safe hands of Motown and United Sound engineer Ed Wolfrum.

The line-up of Paul Lamb on guitar and lead vocal, Layla Hall on drums and backing vocals and Joey Spina on bass and BVs, makes up a power trio with hundreds of shows under their belt across the USA and here. That includes a Glastonbury appearance and touring with Peter Green and Walter Trout.

Thereâs light and shade on the album, from the powerful, rocky, crockery rattling opener; where Paul tells us that all he is looking for is someone to kiss his scars. Good luck with finding her then, Paul! To the gentler Bob Seger type ballads, and 70s styled soft rock-blues tracks.

âOne Last Slow Dance,â is a sparse, slow atmospheric thing which gives a big clue to his Jimi H influences, with its âLittle Wingâ type guitar brush strokes intro. âDead In El Paso,â changes tempo with its grungy vibe. They funk it up on the Chilli Peppers type track, âI Ainât Givin' You Up,â before the slowie âGunshot Lullaby.â Then some frantic heavier rock, to tell us âDetroit Is On Fire,â which sits on some subtle low in the bed of the track Hammond.

âTime Of My Life,â has a Stooges/Ramones punk-edge to it, with a splash of rock and blues thrown into the gumbo. Piano leads the way on the ballad âWe Believe,â which is the weakest vocal on the record, a tad pitchy.

But the next one more than makes up for that; the strongest track of the 10 here. The fiery slide playing on âDrinks Are On Me,â from âTales From The Gravel,â the best, most natural and gifted guitar playing on the album. Good song in a George Thorogood and the Destroyers/Johnny Winter style, and a decent vocal too. Slide clearly one of Paul's strengths, and I for one would like to hear more. Some very tasty Lamb chops here. His influences clearly a mint source. See what I did there?

The tracks come from âHanginâ On For Dear Life,â âGunshot Lullaby,â and âTales From The Gravel,â plus a cut from his EP, âSunrise From The Other Side.â On his most recent previous album, âReady, Fire, Aim,â guests included British blues star Joanne Shaw Taylor, Erich Goebel and Bobby East. But we do not get any of that on this compilation for some reason.

His vocal style is chameleon-like and changes to suit the style of the song. One minute heâs been gargling razor blades and rust and belts it out, frightening the sheep, and the next heâs a smooth balladeer.

Paul first got into music when he was an athlete; he was on a basketball scholarship, but badly broke his leg and that was the end of his sportâs career. A friend handed him a guitar, and Paul taught himself to play, transferring all his sporting energy and time into guitar and music. Hours spent watching Hendrix videos and âwhat his hands were doing,â paid off, and at 19-years-old, his obsession with music was fired up. He started playing with bands and jamming, starting with bass in R&B bands around college. Music has been his chosen path ever since.

His Father was a serious record collector, and Paul had his own record collection from a young age, buying the Jimi Hendrix album âSmash Hits,â at ten-years-old. He was influenced by a wide variety of Detroit bands and other artists, and loved the Motown stuff and his faves, Parliament Funkadelic. He also mentions Bob Seger, MC5s, The Stooges, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper as among his musical preferences.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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