The Riotous Brothers is a band that has been an active part of the UK blues scene for over ten years and yet their profile remains criminally neglected, and it is not just down to their play on The Righteous Brothers surely!. Their previous three albums were an original and skilled take on blues and R’n’B…in fact you can read Liz’s review of The Tree in the Bluesdoodles archive. Their last tour was cruelly cut short when the talented Matt Sonnet (known as Mash) was “felled by a severe stroke”. Many bands of less character would have either imploded or replaced the unfortunate Mash…not these guys however; they had already started recording the fourth album when Mash had the stroke and now that he is, as the band have announced, “very much his old cheeky self again, and although his playing and singing abilities are compromised for the foreseeable future, he has contributed hugely to finessing Standing At The Edge Of The World” This means the other members have taken the basic tracks and skilfully cleaned up those ‘rough’ takes; Mat Lake added additional guitars and Paul Long the vocals where necessary. The result is a tribute to friendship and a ‘get well soon’ message to Mash as the guys hope they will one day be able to return to live performances and the album, unsurprisingly, is dedicated to “…the further recovery of their dear friend and brother Matt Sonnet.”
It all starts with the gentle strummed intro to Please Take Me Home, and Mash bringing a melodic Dylan approach to the story of the need to return home. The band colour the backing with keys and a strong bass line before a subtle and clever guitar solo melds the story and the melody together. Next up is a Mott The Hoople a-like song…I nearly did my best Ian Hunter “Allo!” impression when I Want My Money Back Started. Paul takes the vocals on this great 70s rock song that echoes a bit of T-Rex as well. It is as infectious as those back in the day too, with another neat guitar solo to keep it fresh. In The Dirt has a quiet start with gentle picking and electric piano as Mash’s vocals wash effectively over it all. It bursts into guitar after a couple of verses and brings depth to what is essentially a ballad that the Animals could have put together if they’d had modern studios at the time. Thinking About You picks up the pace with a happy-go-lucky feel and a brilliant descending bass line which should sound out of place but doesn’t. It is pure fun R’n’B with neat guitar punctuation and brushed drums adding to the feel. Kept By A Fool starts with a funereal drum and chant and, with the sparse instrumentation and a guest female vocalist, Gaynor Ingram who contributes to the atmosphere and adds depth to the storyline; it builds into an enjoyable slow blues number with keys that again summon The Animals to mind. Heart Of Stone is more quality R’n’B with a complex backing to the vocals and a lovely keyboard solo to add some variation and Mat lake adding a tasty guitar solo at the close. I’m Doing Fine is the best one for me with its heavy blues riff and vocal/drum only pieces as the Cream-like structure comes through…and then we get a thing of beauty that rarely happens as a bass solo presages the wah guitar solo. Strong is a piano-led blues with a hefty chunk of soul in the vocals…even though the line “she had a botox mother and a father that knew how to hurt without leaving a mark” paints uncomfortable pictures the story has a (mostly) happy ending and a quality Mash solo. Now Here Or Never is back to upbeat with a country-tinged blues edge to the composition. The piano tinkles away merrily in the background before a neat little solo. The final and title track, Standing At The Edge Of The World has warm organ intro with guitar notes bending beautifully over it. It then breaks into a mid-paced blues song similar in construct to some of Gary Moore’s work. Although when the vocals and piano cut in it is very Beatles apart from the chug of the short riff. Mat does more sterling work on the guitar solo with space and bends.
So, here we have an enjoyable album made poignant by the way it had to be put together in the face of adversity. OK, it doesn’t offer anything particularly new, but the blend of blues and R’n’B the guys have produced mean that there is much to be enjoyed.
Finally, all of us at Bluesdoodles wish Mash a full recovery and send all of the band our congratulations in pulling this together and we look forward to you getting back on the road and into the studio in the near future.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
Track listing and composers:
- Please Take Me Home (Sonnet)
- I Want My Money Back (Long)
- In The Dirt (Sonnet)
- Thinking About You (Long/Sonnet)
- Kept By A Fool (Sonnet)
- Heart Of Stone (Long)
- I’m Doing Fine (Sonnet)
- Strong (Long)
- Now Here Or Never (Sonnet)
- Standing At The Edge Of The World (Long/Sonnet)
Mash Sonnet – Vocal and Guitar
Paul Long – Keyboards, Vocals & Guitar
Mat Lake – Bass, Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Dirk Maggs – Drums, percussion and backing vocals
Guest Vocalist – Gaynor Ingram