Blues and boogie from One Man One Band Extraordinaire
When I was a youngster, all those years ago, a one-man band was a novelty act on programs such as Opportunity Knocks. Ah, remember Hughie Green and the Muscle Man etc.? Just me then!
This trip down memory lane is to assure you that Steve Hill is not a novelty act; one man he may be, and he does play guitar, bass and snare drums, cymbals and harmonica simultaneously, but he does it with flair and it actually works. (He even has a drumstick attached to the head of his guitar).
Hill is very successful in his homeland of Canada and has racked up a lot of support for his previous releases. On his own, he is able to effortlessly bring to mind full bands such as Foghat, the Bluesbreakers and the Faces. Blues and boogie from One Man One Band Extraordinaire Canadian Steve Hill is more than a One Man Band He Rocks on Solo Recordings Volume 3.
The opening number, Damned, sets the scene for most of the electric numbers which follow. There is a distinctly live feel to the recording and, Hill’s voice, whilst not being the best in the genre, is a perfect match for this kind of blues. Added to that, he brings a sense of fun with the backing rhythm his various limbs provide, as he expands on the song’s main riff.
Dangerous is laid back blues with a smooth rock lilt, throughout which I keep hearing early Gary Moore’s approach to the blues. Still A Fool and A Rollin’ Stone, the first cover is probably best known from the version by Muddy Waters and has Hill pulling real emotion from every string. Similarly, the rocker Rhythm All Over has a great riff and moves into a slide solo which is so fluid it just melts! Can’t Take It With You has sublime, echoey guitar moving neatly into a mid-paced guitar section. The other covers, Rollin’ & Tumblin/Stop Breaking Down are faithful, albeit electrified, to the Robert Johnson originals, including some glorious slide guitar.
When Hill moves to acoustic, as on Slowly Slipping Away, we see the other, mellower side to him. This track and Smoking Hot Machine feature some smouldering harmonica to show the depth of writing and performing that Hill can bring to the party.
Troubled Times is a fingerpicked, folky blues tune, and he uses the body of the acoustic as well as the strings, really effectively to evoke the “cold is coming” theme. Emily is a rhythmic bluesy shuffle, bringing to mind The Kinks in their heyday.
Going Down The Road Feeling Bad is undoubtedly blues with a slight hint of a thoughtful ballad. A beautiful acoustic introduction takes us into the body of the song. The Grateful Dead is probably best known for this track, although the original is a 1927 folk blues covered by many, including Woody Guthrie.
The album finishes with a true, fuzzed blues-rock track. Walking Grave has Hill letting rip with guitar soloing that tips its hat to, I’d guess, influences such as Hendrix and Gallagher.
When listening to this great album, it can be difficult to remember this is just one man. How he coordinates all of the instruments is beyond me, but I am more than happy to benefit from this man’s skills. Blues and blues/rock combine on a very satisfying album.
Catch Hill live and believe! in the power of blues and boogie from One Man One Band Extraordinaire. Check out tour dates NOW!
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
3. Still a Fool and a Rollin’ Stone
4. Slowly Slipping Away
5. Rhythm All Over
6. Smoking Hot Machine
7. Troubled Times
9. Can’t Take It With You
10. Rollin’ And Tumblin’/Stop Breaking Down
11. Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
12. Walking Grave
Steve Hill… just him, on all instruments!
Steve Hill is back in the UK as the special guest on King King & Danny Bryant’s tours throughout April, May & June 2012018.