Tim Woods has a plea for the Human Race

Siblings, particularly older ones, and parents often seem to have a huge influence on how an artists’ musical leanings will develop…mercifully mine didn’t! (Otherwise I would be listening to Klaus Wunderlicht (my Dad) or Cliff Richard (my sister)). In the case of Tim Woods, his elder brothers gave him rock, blues and jazz; the blues won out and he became enamoured with the songs and, importantly, the songwriting of Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. After over thirty years performing in jam-bands, with the Woods Family Band and solo, he has only released one album; the rather tasty ‘The Blues Sessions’…until recently, that is. He has now added Human Race to that short list and brings to it a fascinating method of playing the guitar. His guitar instructor, Ernie Hawkins, was a disciple of the Reverend Gary Davis style of finger picking, which take it from a woeful guitarist like me, is bloody difficult. Tim has developed this further by how he uses his thumb to play rhythm while it and the rest of his fingers play lead; so a lot of what may sound like overdubs are not. His style and blues influences are combined on this latest album into a heady blend of blues with names like the Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green era) and the Grateful Dead springing to mind when I listen. I can also empathise with the loose theme that runs through the album, as my personal credo has always been, “I may be human but I am not in the Race” and so I concur with his desires for kindness to Mother Nature. Anyway, to the music… the album opens with a slow paced blues called Can You Feel It, and the guitar sounds great as the reverb gives it a voice of its own. It has a Bad Company crossed with Robin Trower feel to it but with a healthy backing from the organ. Tim’s voice is suited to this kind of music; it may not be Paul Rodgers, but he can carry a tune very well. Every Day starts with a fresh sounding acoustic, although the star of this song is the fabulous bass playing, and the electric guitar solo too, of course. Step is the first of three instrumentals and, again, the bass is the real delight for me here as Bobby combines a sort of Mouzon crossed with Fraser sound to great effect. The guitar does still manage to paint pictures with the phrasing and style of Tim’s playing.  Take A Minute brings an acoustic led ballad, which will inevitably lead to Floyd comparisons; the whole arrangement is redolent of their work and that means for me it is the weakest track here. The title track, Human Race, is a basic, raw blues-rock of the Iggy Pop variety: indeed Tim even sounds like him at times. A friend of Tim, Perry Werner, wrote the next song called Black Maria. Please note this a love song about Maria (rhymes with Sangria…in the lyrics at least) and not about a vehicle used to transport criminals! It is ,neatly paced and played track with a beautifully picked solo. TW Funk is the second instrumental and is, unsurprisingly, introduced by a funky riff on the bass and organ, and the guitar washes across it all as Tim uses all of the fretboard and, although slide isn’t involved, it could have been on Bolin’s Teaser album with its construction and funk. The complexity and dexterity make this my favourite of the lot. Image Is Clear comes next and, with its lower register vocal, conjures an image of Donovan electrified… in a musical sense that is. Trixie is the last instrumental and the way Tim channels his internal Garcia is spellbinding, as the Grateful Dead’s echoes are clear, despite a Caribbean flavour to some of the backing. Straightforward blues-rock heralds the next track, Have Mercy. The gentle strumming and organ in the background are the perfect counterpoint to the guitar exclamations and the solo is full of expression. Where did She Go is more pure blues in the Wolf style and execution. This is a great example of new, old blues with solid guitar and more great bass. Final track, Leave The Earth Alone, is Bad Co flavoured blues as Tim’s plea for the preservation of this beautiful planet is sprinkled with some tasty guitar phrasing and, as the tempo suddenly picks up toward the end a little bit of southern country slips in.

Overall the, we have a very well written and played album of varied blues that will remain as a regular on my iPod. It has a refreshing approach to the blues we love and, although not earth-shattering, I doubt it will disappoint the blues guitar lovers amongst us.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:
1. Can You Feel It
2. Every Day
3. Step
4. Take A Minute
5. Human Race
6. Black Maria
7. TW Funk
8. Image Is Clear
9. Trixie
10. Have Mercy
11. Where Did She Go
12. Leave The Earth Alone

All tracks composed by Tim Woods except 6, written by Perry Werner.

Musicians:
Tim Woods: vocals, guitar
Bobby Lee Rodgers: guitar, bass, drums, keys
Pete Lavezzolli: drums (9-12)
Don Coffman: upright bass (10,12)
William Newell Bate: drums (8)

Tim Woods has a plea for the Human Race

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