Félix Rabin released this EP in 2020. The good news it has climbed to the top of the review pile and I now have that bluesy, rocky, tinged with proggy recording Bluesdoodles just had to share.
Rabin released his debut album (Down Our Roads) in 2018 and included a brave and exceedingly proficient version of Hey Joe. The follow up is billed as an EP, but Pogboy is more of a short album with its six tracks running in at half an hour. The title comes from the nickname he was given by the recording engineer Ross Hogarth, when he queried Félix’s heavy use of an effects pedal called the POG. The initials stand for polyphonic octave generator and, without trying to bore non guitar geeks like me, it has Dry, Wet, Sub Octave, and Octave Up controls to bring an extra dimension to the sound…harmonise with yourself, for example.
The man himself is a Swiss based Frenchman who has toured heavily in 2019 and, like all others, was severely hampered by the Covid breakout…fortunately, he finished recording this EP in Los Angeles before the world went to hell in a handcart.
His guitar playing, for one of (to me at least) such tender years, is clearly instinctive and although his influences range from Hendrix to Floyd, they don’t overwrite his originality. This becomes clear on the opening track, Walk: the intro is very 16th Century Greensleeves in structure but that pedal brings in harmonics that soon distinguish the major differences and its overarching psychedelic touches make it a winner. The guitar playing isn’t about flash, it’s about subtlety and emotion even on the feedback drenched outro. Moving On is where he truly shines…this electric, bluesy, mid-paced song has plenty of nice guitar phrasing between the verses before the (sort of) surprise of the inclusion of horns. Without them however, this would have been a blues laced predictable bit of melodic rock, but the addition of them within its clever structure with a tasteful bridge. The thoughtful and well crafted solo is, unfortunately, left until the fade and I’m left feeling a bit cheated as it promised so much…or that might be me being selfish. The horns get even more horny when they appear on the next track, Say (You Won’t Leave Me); this is a funk tinged, heavy blues with a touch of the Freddie King about it and barrels along majestically. It also gives us the first proper guitar solo (hurrah!) and it was worth the wait…it employs pedal, but not too much, barring and exquisite picking and bending washes through it too: quality. Angels slows us back down with Hendrixian(?) builds surrounding the basic melodies and then the mildly distorted and ‘POGged’ solo is short but good. Next up is the portentously named Death; this is seven plus minutes that validate ‘proggy’ label, as he deals up some distinctly Floydian structures with a coned trumpet solo that makes you think of Gilmore entertaining a jazz lounge! It continues to build however and delivers a solo that has bite, yet restraint; each sparse note and phrase speaks volumes to back the lyrics and is actually long enough to satisfy even me…thank you Félix. Final track, Gone, is back with the full horns and a catchy, funky riff that has full blown rock sections as well as a great solo as an outro.
A really solid EP that bodes well for the future of this absurdly talented guitarist; well worth listening to for blues, rock and even AOR lovers.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws; a wonderful bluesy rocky addition that will satisfy many tastes.
2. Moving On
3. Say (You Won’t Leave Me)
(Apologies to the talented backing band: no details were available but rest assured, your sterling work is appreciated.)
(The iTunes run on track served up some more electric blues…Fenton Robinson with a live rendition of his 1974 song, Somebody Loan Me A Dime…lovely.)