Opening with The Thrill Ain’t Gone, with deep moody bass clash of cymbals harp and the beat picking up before the vocals, this is blues that didn’t grab me from the off, not sure why the timing was a bit rushed but the lyrics were clever and the Voodification could take time to work its magic.
Voodoo Sheiks, shake-it up with energy that has a live feel in this their second album and amongst the mix of tones the tempo is always high speed, with influences from pub rock especially early Dr Feelgood. By the time the keyboards from special guest Paul Johnson kicked in on Flying Fortress I was into the groove and Voodoo Sheiks approach to Rhythm and Blues was making sense to me. This is a four-piece that wants to play their music in a style that is loyal but not constrained by any genre, they have a British approach in the instrumentation and Exit Wound is slower giving time for the music to shape around the distinctive Slowblow Dave Magson’s vocals who has a timbre that counteracts the guitar work from Adrian Thomas.
The rhythm section is the powerhouse of the band driving the songs along spitting out a stylish beat. Often it is Andy Pullin’s bass that provides the hook for the vocals as on, Build Me A Woman the first of the covers catches your attention, they have now lost that frenetic intensity of the first few tracks and all the better for that in my opinion. This is definitely back to pub rock and a Feelgood factor with the harp and vocals from Slowblow Dave and driving guitar which will definitely get people up and dancing whenever they hear New Boogie Disease; with John Coombes drums kicking the beat you just have to boogie the night away.
One of my personal favourite Allman Brothers tracks, Whipping Post, now receives the Voodoo treatment and the bass at the beginning is beguiling and the guitar work tight from Adrian Thomas, the vocals were a bit strained and lacked the urgency I would have expected this band to have pulled off, but an interesting arrangement that fits well into the shape of the album.
Negative Equity Blues is full of blues with contemporary lyrics and the beat is back up to a high octane level leading into the penultimate track Show and Tell with their observations on social media the vocals immersed in the guitar work of Adrian who delivers a stylish solo.
Ending with Monkey DNA we are treated to a duet of harp and drums at the beginning which works so well for me this is a track that epitomizes the power of the Voodoo Sheiks style and approach to music. Picking up with a jiving bass driven beat and a monkey at the heart a common animal for many a blues album; this is music that definitely isn’t monkeying around; with lots of guitar, harp and music form the quartet.
The album is definitely full of dark energy, and excellent musicianship, Voodoo Sheiks have included three covers and nine self-penned numbers full of rooted blues music that is then contorted into the musical texture they want to deliver on the album. The result is a high energy, raw, live sound produced and recorded over four days in a studio, this is a band in a hurry to put you under their spell and make Voodifcation a household word for pub rock infused blues.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. The Thrill Ain’t Gone
2. Have A Heart
3. Flying Fortress
4. Exit Wound
5. Build Me a Woman (Renson / Ramsey)
6. New Boogie Disease
7. Whipping Post (Allman Brothers)
8. When Love Comes To Town (Bono/The Edge/Clayton/Mullen jr)
9. Shared Truth
10. Negative Equity Blues
11. Show and Tell
12. Monkey DNA