First of all, I must declare a bit of a bias due to serendipity or simple coincidence. This band is from the North East of England, Seaham to be precise. I am from a small mining village in the North East; my wife is from Seaham and we used to do our courting (as it was known then) in the Dun Cow at Seaton Village near Seaham. This is the venue Auld Man’s Baccie call home and in my time, was the only place where mine host had a large book of cocktail recipes you could choose from and he’d make it there and then! Coincidence number two is that Auld (pronounced Owld) Mans Baccie was a favourite plant for us as kids. Not for smoking, as the leaves in times of hardship were, but as a source of pea shooters (don’t try this at home; we were lucky that it was the innocuous Achillea millefolium plant as it looks very similar to the deadly Hemlock Water Dropwort, Oenanthe crocata, which would have probably killed us!) So, I already feel a close affiliation with this Blues/Americana/Roots/Gospel duo. Davey (the Reverend Curtis Humbucker) Curtis on vocals, guitar and stomp box, along with Nick (the Baptist) Phillips on slide guitar and vocals have previously released two albums of a mix of self-penned blues with a few carefully chosen covers. They now unleash a double live album; one, Nee Jiggery Pokery, consists of their own songs; the other, 100% Homage, is all covers and is free when purchasing the first. Recorded at the Times Inn, which if memory serves, is in Dalton-Le-Dale just outside Seaham and inevitably, the recording has all of the atmosphere of a close-up and personal pub gig. The added benefit is that the two boys share some social commentary and discuss their much-beloved wives (“Our Lass” means darling wife or love of my life if referring to a girlfriend). In fact, nearly all of their songs are laced with humour and oblique references to various things if you get my drift.
To the music… There are too many tracks to comment on each one, so only my personal highlights appear. Their own compositions sound like they are if this is possible, fresh out of the 1930s; with just the two guitars and voices, they could be performing on a porch with Son House, Lead Belly and the like looking on. The first, Old Black Dog, is about the love of a dog and his own potential love affair with Fi-fi the poodle. Humour coupled with a true deep blues feel make for a perfect opening. A slow march suiting the title of Dead Mans Shoes has glorious slide underlining the melody. Church of Lost Souls is a great lament with more slippery slide. It works very well as it is but this is a song that is ripe for an electric blues/rock treatment. Mr Bonamassa take note; it really would work.
The highlight of the covers album has to be the genius of Alex Harvey’s Framed. It takes on a true blues feel and works well acoustically in the capable hands of Curtis and Phillips while retaining the humour and observations of the original. Likewise, the Peter Green version of Doctor Brown and Canned Heat’s Let’s Work Together get the Baccie treatment and are a joy. They all work in their own way even though Bullfrog Blues is forever Gallagher in my mind and Whole Lotta Rosie takes AC/DC back to their roots although it is the least successful to me.
So as a live package, this works a treat. It is spoilt only by the between track editing. This nearly ruins the flow and deprives us of some of the banter. Still, if you want to lose yourself in the atmosphere an intimate pub gig with a couple of consummate musicians, then this is for you.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
Nee Jiggery Pokery tracklisting:
- Old Black Dog*
- Fanny Mae*
- Dead Mans Shoes*
- Mamma Moonshine**
- Church of Lost Souls*
- Long Hard Road**
- Grant Me Salvation**
- Baccie Blues**
- Shaky Juice*
- Closing Time
** From their 2015 debut album, Resonating With The Blues
* From their second album The Church of Lost Souls
100% Homage tracklisting:
- Bullfrog Blues (written in 1928 by William Harris, covered by Rory Gallagher)
- Doctor Brown (written in 1959 by Buster Brown, covered by Fleetwood Mac
- Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Women (written in 1947 by Tim Spencer, covered by Jim Croce)
- Roll Me Up And Smoke When I Die (credited to Willie Nelson, but disputed by Ashley Wilson)
- Ain’t Nobody’s Business (written in 1922 by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, covered by Taj Mahal)
- Whole Lotta Rosie (yes, that one!)
- Let’s Work Together (written in 1962 by Wilbert Harrison, covered by Canned Heat)
- In The Jailhouse Now (written in 1928 by Jimmie Rodgers, covered by Sonny James (and the Soggy Bottom Boys))
- Framed (written in 1972 by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band)
- Folsom Prison Blues (written in 1953 by Johnny Cash)