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Issue 1088

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Review

Gary Hoey: Dust & Bones (Provogue/Mascot) 5th August

Gary Hoey CD cover pic

7

6.1

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UK release date 05.08.2016

US rock and blues guitarist Gary Hoey kicked off his recording career in 1991 with the solo album, “Get A Grip.” He’s done just that over a quarter of a century and notched up an impressive 20 albums to date.

A versatile and skilled guitarist, “Dust & Bones,” drops here in August, and if you like your blues loud, mean, moody and rockin’ then Mr H is your man. He can do light and shade too though, and there’s some very fine resonator bottle neck slide on this accomplished 11-tracker too. He pays tribute to some of his influences across the record; Robin Trower, Johnny Winter, Robert Johnson, Led Zepp' and others on all original material. Runaways star Lita Ford pops up on the duet, “Coming Home.”

His previous album, “Deja Blues,” (great title) was an all out blues affair, but this one shows a more ferocious, blistering, powerful blues rock side to the man. Operating as a power trio across the CD, Gary is joined by drummer Matt Scurfield and bassist AJ Pappas, and it is a watertight unit. Showcasing Hoey’s Fender Stratocaster-driven fury alongside open-D-tuned resonator guitars plugged into half-stacks.

Boston-born Hoey auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne in 1988, as replacement for Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde getting the job. In 1990 he formed Heavy Bones who put out one album before jacking it in. In 1993, he recorded the album Animal Instinct album, which included a cover of the Focus hit "Hocus Pocus". His cover hit the Top 5 of the charts.

Hoey has toured and traded licks with Brian May of Queen, Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Joe Satriani, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Peter Frampton, Rick Derringer, Deep Purple, and Lita Ford. He supported Jeff Beck on the US leg of his spring 2010 tour.

“BoxCar Blues,” opens proceedings, just vocal and resonator slide before the band kick in on a ballsy blues cut, but the vocal needs to come up in the mix as it is over powered by the music. Supposedly Robert Johnson meets Led Zeppelin, but that’s not what I hear. “Who’s Your Daddy,” is Gary’s homage to Start Cat Brian Setzer, a blues swing, with a slight rasp in his throat for the vocal, and a nice hook. Jim’s wah wah from Vodoo Chile is channelled on “Born To Love You,” on a heavy Texas style blues rocker. The title track could be on any Joe Bonamassa album, a 70s’ rock track that works well.

Johnny Winter gets his respectful nod on “Steamroller,” 100mph boogie in George Thorogood territory. The raw slide licks are five star. One of the stand out cuts is the duet with Lita Ford, “Coming Home,” which slows things down. One of his strongest vocals on the album. Some distortion and slight sibilance on her vocal though. “Ghost Of Yesterday,” a power rocker but the vocal doesn’t quite match the strength of the music.

When “This Time Tomorrow,” fired up, I was convinced this was a Robin Trower penned song, but no. Gary wrote it as a tribute to his hero, a moody ballad, creating a nice atmosphere which builds nicely. Gary Moore/Jeff Beck or Trower would for this song like a glove. Some lovely controlled licks from Gary here, and his vocal is spot on. Probably the most accomplished and complete track as regards production values, vocal, guitar and tone.

12 bar blues on “Back Up Against The Wall,” which did not hold my attention. “Blind Faith,” gives us a storming, heavy blues track with some sizzling slide licks in the solo. Pleasant instrumental sat on a funky bass line, “Soul Surfer,” closes things with a bit of a jam.

Gary Hoey sure can play guitar and you can tell he is road worn and vastly experienced. He says everything on "Dust & Bones," was designed to produce a huge impact. It does. But for me, while he certainly achieved that with the music and most of the material, the vocal is an uneven listen and lacks the quality and power of the playing at times. A dozen of his 20 albums have been instrumental, so the voice was not part of the deal, and maybe much more attention is paid to the guitar and music in production today than the vocal.

But to clarify; this is still an album rock and blues fans, especially guitarists, should dig big-time - a guy to seek out if he's a new name to you from the 20 albums out there.  
Words SIMON REDLEY

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