If I had to sum up Tim Aves and Wolfpack’s follow-up album to The Wolfpack Burnham Sessions it would be a brilliant, authentic collection of re-imagined classics with three classy tracks penned by Tim himself, in three words Authentic, Honest, Blues!
Luckily I can use a few more words because Never Saw Chester is filled with gems that makes this album a delight to listen to again and again.
The first of the self-penned numbers is the title track, a clever 5 minute musical journey through Howlin’ Wolf’s career with driving guitar from Joel Fisk, and then the intervention from Dale Storr on keys adds the sweetest of layers in the musical link before the next verse and Tim’s voice picks up the story and draws you in. After listening to this track put on some Howlin Wolf sit back and realise how this track is a true tribute to the man himself. Delta Angel opens with some great shuffles on the drum kit from Paul Lester as Tim comes in with a boogie in his voice this is a driving tune and the journey may be a bumpy ride but it is going to be fun. Making up the trio is Wageslave, opening with Joel laying down the licks he is joined by Rob “Tank” Barry on Bass and Paul on drums before the lyrics kick in ‘Don’t Want be a wage slave all of my life”; this is contemporary blues, with the true sound and feel of the Essex Delta; the lyrics, guitar work, harp all work distilling down the essence of the blues.
The other eight tracks are covers of classics, five of which were written by Willie Dixon, these are not renditions that you would necessarily expect, each has been re-worked keeping a clever synergy of the authentic sound of the original whilst shaking into the mix Tim’s spirit, passion and love of the blues. Opening the album with a version of Willie Dixon’s; I Ain’t Superstitious recorded by Howlin’ Wolf the album sets a tone and a very high level of musicianship. Evil and Backdoor Man are delivered with verve and a great deal of Essex blues influence courtesy of Tim Aves who seems to be enjoying getting his lips around the word Evil. Backdoor Man has a different guitar sound with use of acoustic and a driving rhythm that has a link with the Ian Siegal versions we love to hear live. Rice Miller’s; Your Funeral and My Trial really lets Tim showcase his skills on the blues-harp as the intro moves towards the lyrics that once again are dark and full of life’s travails. This is a foot-tapping track full of musical tones and colour. Then the album is drawn to its conclusion with two more tracks at the heart of the Wolf cannon re-created by the Wolfpack, Wang Dang Doodle the penultimate treat has a Canned Heat feel and the harp playing shines through but the star is the vocals as Tim tells the lyrics with passion and true meaning and you want the music to go on all night long. Then all too soon, in the case of albums you are enjoying the needle hits the last track with Built for Comfort and some spoken words left in the recording giving the album a live feel, not a studio controlled album. On this track we hear Joel on slide guitar demonstrating the versatility and talent of this young blues guitarist ending with a laugh and some fun summing up the album fun.
There can be no doubt that everyone has thoroughly enjoyed creating the sound, feeling and emotions encased in a very fine album Never saw Chester, may be true but the spirit lives on through these musicians..
Never Saw Chester will be available via the band and at its website – Tim Aves & Wolfpack
Normally an album that has so many covers would feel ‘heard this before’ – not on this album ….
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….