David Lumsden and Friends choose Hues Of Blues

Tom Dixon’s review
Guitarist David Lumsden has been classed as a ‘journeyman’ performer because of his roles in numerous bands going back to his schooldays. David got his first guitar at the age of ten and became fascinated by blues artists such as Freddie King and he is heavily influenced by the British Blues Boom of the 1960s. He first came to my attention when he was the lead guitarist in Hurricane Ruth LaMaster’s band, where he added fire and skill to back up her considerable vocals. Now David has put together an album of his own, although he’s recruited a formidable line-up of musicians to help realise the music he wants to make…hence the name, David Lumsden and Friends. Together they have produced a blend of brave, obscure and classic cover versions (bar one Lumsden co-write) …all of them, however, have one thing in common…the blues.

The show opens with the Earl Hooker composition, You Got To Lose. This 1969 blues potboiler has been updated in just the right way. The original riff is there with some neat pedal board work added in the intro and with a B3 backing, it ticks all the boxes. The solo is carefully pitched and played to give the song the Lumsden stamp, but maintain the feel. Further On Up the Road, best known via the Clapton version is closer to the original than Eric’s and is pure, unadulterated Rhythm and Blues. Trading vocals and guitar solos with Bill Evans gives it a bounce that is as much fun as it is infectious. You’re Ruining My Bad Reputation uses, I think, the ZZ Hill take on this as the base, and gives it a brilliant update courtesy of Wayne Carter’s approach on the vocals. It also has some seriously slinky slide that this particular guitar geek adores; the solo is very good indeed. Jeff Beck’s mastery of all things guitar makes any cover version of his work either courageous or foolhardy. On Brush With The Blues, Lumsden and his friends put in a more than credible attempt. Interestingly, and even more bravely, it is a live recording and cannot hide behind multi-tracking or studio trickery. The Beck trademark whammy bar and volume control style is followed and adapted and the end result is a very entertaining instrumental. No, it is not as good as the original, but it is still a great listen. What’s the Matter With the Mill is one of my favourite Memphis Minnie songs and it gets a fine update here whilst retaining her vigour and Reggie Britton’s vocals fit well with the original. The piano solo is the right side of ‘plinky’ and adds to the fun; the harp works too and the guitar solo is inspired. Raised Me Right features Mary Jo Curry as co-writer and vocalist. (Her eponymous album is well worth a listen too, particularly the brilliant Smellin’). This has a gloriously dirty slide backing to Mary Jo’s lovely vocals as the almost swampy blues pour forth. The solo over a simple and effective snare pattern is slide as it should be. On Bended Knee was written by the harp player Steve Mehlberg who sings and plays on this funky dance track. Unsurprisingly, his harp playing takes centre stage for what is ultimately a fun but inessential song. Thrill Is Gone was a BB King staple, and in David’s hands, it is treated to a fairly faithful version. It is a strong song anyway and it is handled admirably by Wayne Carter on vocals as he pays due respect and interprets it well. The guitar solo is cleverly empathetic while putting some brilliant nuances into it. Cut You Loose is probably best known from the James Cotton version and again features Mehlberg. This track has received a curious treatment in the way that the Good Morning Little Schoolgirl riff has been blended with the, albeit similar, original riff to make it a nearly new and unctuous version which sounds great. Rollin’ And Tumblin’ have been covered by umpteen artists since the original in 1929 but is perhaps best remembered for the Muddy Waters cover. Lumsden gives it a great makeover, with a superb guitar intro before that familiar riff cuts in. Treated as an instrumental with the guitar speaking the words and played so that each string really does sing. The bass and drums are pitched just right too and make this a brilliant update; a truly novel and entertaining way to take a classic and breathe new life into it. Georgia On My Mind was most successful with Ray Charles (and most tortured at Long Beach in 1976!) and, to be honest, it was never a favourite even before ’76, so although this is a proficient reading; it’s well sung and the piano and guitar is in keeping with the original, it falls out of context with the true blues elsewhere on the album. Rain Song is another brave move, as Page/Plant devotees aren’t known for their tolerance but this instrumental reading is well thought out as Andon Davis puts in the slide work over an acoustic guitar tuned to perfection. Key produced strings inject atmosphere but Andon is the star here as the song that begat it fades into the background.

This is a really enjoyable album with some fascinating and very good interpretation of classic blues. Although many try this approach, not that many succeed but David Lumsden and friends have made those classics different enough to be worth listening to as often as their progenitors. With class renditions of such unlikely songs as Brush With The Blues and …The Mill, this deserves a listen. Georgia remains a misstep in my personal view, but if you like that song, then there is nothing to dislike at all. If David would like to do another similar album, I can think of a multitude of tracks I’d like to hear him interpret.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing and composers:

  1. You Got to Lose (Earl Hooker)
  2. Further On Up the Road (Don Robey/Joe Veasy)
  3. You’re Ruining My Bad Reputation (Denise LaSalle)
  4. Brush With the Blues (Jeff Beck)
  5. What’s the Matter with the Mill (Memphis Minnie)
  6. Raised Me Right (Mary Jo Curry/David Lumsden)
  7. On Bended Knee (Steve “The Harp” Mehlberg)
  8. Thrill Is Gone (Rick Darnell/Roy Hawkins)
  9. Cut You Loose (Michael B London)
  10. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Hambone Willie Newbern)
  11. Georgia on My Mind (Hoagey Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell)
  12. Rain Song (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)

 

Musicians:
David Lumsden – Vocal / Guitar
Wayne Carter – Vocal / Keyboards
Bill “Machine Gun” Evans – Vocal / Guitar
Reggie Britton aka “Mr. BMJ” – Vocal / Drums
Mary Jo Curry – Vocal
Steve “The Harp” Mehlberg – Vocal / Blues Harp
Andon Davis – Guitar
Gary Davis – Bass / Keyboards
Arthur Carey Sr. – Drums
Jim Engel – Drums
Rich Leigh – Bass
Ezra Casey – Keyboards
Tim Bahn – Keyboards
Dion Doss – Drums

Produced by David Lumsden

Big apologies to TOM DIXON who wrote this review – and the publishing gremlins posted as Liz Aiken. The gremlin was Liz herself who jsut didn’t follow her own protocol!

David Lumsden and Friends choose Hues Of Blues

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