Jock’s Juke Joint Volume Two, is a compilation of delight across all eighteen tracks providing the perfect showcasing of the depth of talent in Scotland that sadly for the rest of us in the British Isles we rarely get to see live. Listening to this CD is the best use of seventy minutes I have had for a long time as I was introduced to band after band and left wanting more – this mix would be a top festival line-up for a blues festival that would bring real delight to all. The overall reflection of the CD is quality blues with the harmonica showcased at the highest standard throughout combined with great vocals, guitar playing and the bedrock rhythm section.
Each of the eighteen tracks on the CD is there for a reason and fits in with the preceding and following so there are no harsh juxtapositions, this is not though a bland mix of safety each band is bringing to the party something different so this is a casket of jewels that shine bright with all the colour, glints and shines that each jewel brings to the collection. I never write about every track, but rules in my book are made for breaking so we are going to have a snippet about every track….
Opening with a feel good party song kick starts the event as Blues ‘n’ Trouble get the proceedings under way. The opening lick of The Kennel Wages‘, ‘Fighting Over You’ is infectious combined with the blues harp/vocals provided by Danny Williams; this is quickly followed by Wang Dang Delta‘s, ‘Shutting Out The World’ with the beautiful piano of Alan Sunderland and as the notes fade away we have a change of tempo and up jumps The 4 Al’s, ‘Jam’al’ with this instrumental jump jive dancing number that is just pure energy. Cynthia Gentle And The True Tones, ‘You Just can’t Win’, well I can when listening to a voice like Cynthia’s with natural tones that soar above the instruments and is pure pleasure. We have been treated to such a wide variety and this is only track five!
Next up is a clever slow number, Binsness Bluesboys, ‘Crawdad Hole’ that highlights a marriage made in blues heaven when it is got right, and boy do they get it right! The interplay between the Sax and Harp wow what could follow this! But this being Jock’s Juke box it has the perfect follow-on with Jed Potts and The Hillman Hunters, takes us out of Scotland and to the Mississippi Delta with a match made in heaven between the skilled guitar work and the vocals and immaculate drumming, I really do want to hear a live set from this band. This CD manages to cover all the blues scene with the inclusion of folky-blues from John Alexander followed by swing from Baby Isaac and the second female vocalist (incidentally this is the only band I have heard before having reviewed their CD for Blues Matters, which I thoroughly enjoyed). Yet, there is no feeling off ticking of the various strands of the genre the album flows naturally as it showcases the plethora of talent Scotland has to offer.
Now we are half way through a river flowing with quality blues with a mix of still, turbulent, troubled and murky waters blended to please. The harp playing on track ten by the talented Richard Young a Englishman now living in Scotland shines out ‘Confidence Man’ is stellar and combines with his glorious vocals. Then a complete contrast with The Lynsey Dolan Band, ‘Do Right Man’, with her sultry blues, late night voice that melds in with the music creating a complete package, a real marshmallow moment. Then as you would expect another change of tempo with a big Rock n’ Roll sound that makes you want to dance the night away from The Blueswater with great female backing vocals on ‘Should I Be Good or Bad’. Leah follows with a dirty guitar and silky smooth voice creating an ambience on ‘Lost In Night’ of a nightclub, that is not on the right side of town but definitely worth going to hear this voice. A duo, Hot Tin Roof, that has a great acoustic lay-backed interplay follows with ‘Maybe Baby’ bringing down the tempo so we can all draw breath again.
The home-straight starts with track fifteen and a modern take on the blues but true to the tradition is Earl Gray and The Loose Leaves, with great vocals and a Americana/hill country sound with interesting echoing chorus line, this track certainly made me sit up, listen and enjoy. ‘Dear John’ brought to the proceedings by Dougie Burn is a quiet track with soaring harp playing and a display of even more of the talent that has been the link between the majority of the acts on this clever compilation. The Black Diamond Express, has a percussive feel to the rendition of ‘Never Was a Lass So Fair’, with its folk feel and would be at home in any Ceilidh, definitely bring I dollop of Celtic style blues to the party, very clever. All too soon it is the closing song, the party is drawing to a close, and we are treated to a beautiful bluesy song from Fraser Spiers and Lewis Hamilton, with a combo of harp and sharp guitar playing they collude with each other to bring a sweet harmonious instrumental .
I have never really been a fan of compilations but thanks to Duncan Beattie I am a convert, as I always feel that they promise more than they deliver – not in this case can’t wait to hear volume 3,4…. and will definitely be exploring Scottish blues and adding more of this artists to my CD collection. My further plea is we would love to hear you live in Wales and England – so take the high or low road out of Scotland and share your talent with us.