304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album of intelligent covers of classic blues with highly original originals included too.
Since Bluesdoodles got hold of Brad Wilson’s Blue Thunder album back in 2015, we’ve been keeping an eye on this hugely talented guitarist as he has grown stronger with every release. He has certainly been making waves in the States and Europe with his previous albums (I’m Feeling Blue, Blues Thunder, Power Blues Guitar Live and Hands On The Wheel) and with live performances supporting and/or alongside many great artists…Chicago and Tommy Castro for example and anyone who plays with the best guitarist ever, Jeff Beck, is alright by me.
His fifth album is the first to feature ‘Guitar’ in his name and is 50/50 originals and covers all underpinned by an excellent band to give Brad the springboard for his excellent guitar skills and vocals.
The opening track demonstrates how best to pay tribute to a blues legend with an original song: Ballad of John Lee takes John Lee Hooker’s trademark rhythms and understated yet powerful chord work, throw in a few “how, how, how’s” and add lyrics that sum it up too. Somehow Brad achieves all of this in an inventive new/old way as he uses echo and slide to emphasise the John Lee boogie. It is a rocking song rather than an actual ballad and name checks Muddy Waters in the lyrics which is apt as the next song, Walkin’ Thru The Park is by that very man. The shuffle is faithful and the guitar ‘attack’ nods to Muddy’s style and the excellent bass, drums and keys fill out the sound and allow Brad to solo brilliantly and playfully with the melodies. It takes a slightly different approach to the superb versions by Gary Moore and Johnny Winter but is every bit as valid. BB King is the next bluesman in the spotlight with his great song Rock Me Baby. That excellent, stinging solo Brad delivers may not be in the original but it fires this version with taste and due deference…this is up there with Savoy Brown and Blue Cheer’s versions for me. The rocking SRV song, House Is Rockin’, is handled wisely…still rocking’ and the guitar soloing is very Brad while nodding respectfully to the genius that was SRV. Another cover, Someday After Awhile by the wonderful Freddie King gets the stinging, just the right number of notes solos and runs as Brad adds a hint of soul to the original. Although often credited to Freddie, its roots lie in the 1950 song, You’ll Be Sorry written by Cesta Ayers and recorded by Joe Turner…whatever, Mr King made it his brilliantly and Brad nearly supplants John Mayall in my collection of versions. A couple of originals begins with You’re The One For Me…not really blues as it sounds a bit Police crossed with Joe Walsh, especially in the intro, although it is illuminated by neat guitar runs after each line and a very clever solo makes it more than worthy. All Kinds Of A Fool returns to the blues with excellent backing the offset duet of vocal and guitar…hints of SRV and a solo that must have tested the strings with lightning runs blended with sustain and bends. I Can’t Quit You Baby by the immortal Willie Dixon has been covered, stolen and/or ruined by many an artist and was on Brad’s live album of classics too. Brad does a fine job of taking the melodies and moulding them into his own style and proving definitively his considerable skill and feel across the whole eight minutes. Hang With A Bang is the next original song jars a little with the previous track: after genius blues we travel to the funky, soul disco and, despite the great bass line, the clever chord work the very clever solos this will be subject to the skip or Ffwd button for me I’m afraid regardless of the musicianship. Avatar however, is on repeat: this ingenious instrumental has blues, prog, rock and even the odd jazz based chord blended into a fabulous little tune. Back to a cover and the Cream classic, Tales Of Brave Ulysses. Brad stays fairly faithful whilst band convey their personalities with clever honest interpretation. The solo is cleverly not Clapton…give it a listen to make sense of that cryptic comment! Final track, Drivin’, is Brad’s bluesy, rocky story of his love of performing…”there’s nothing that I’d rather do, Drivin’ to play the blues for you.” The solo is good too as he uses hammer on techniques intelligently rather that over flashy like so many ‘guitar heroes’ do.
This is a strong album of intelligent covers and some very good original material that show Brad’s skills to best effect. By the way, Brad already has his next album ‘in the can’…watch out for ‘Nepenthe’ due later this year.
Ballad of John Lee
Walkin’ Thru The Park (Muddy Waters)
Rock Me Baby (BB King, Joe Josea)
House Is Rockin’ (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall)
Someday After Awhile (Freddie King)
You’re The One For Me
All Kinds Of A Fool
I Can’t Quit You Baby (Willie Dixon)
Hang With A Bang
Tales Of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton, Martin Sharp)
Brad Wilson: vocals, guitar
Brian Beal, Jeff Covell, Jack van Aert, Oscar Huguet: bass
Adam Gust, Peter Wolf, Rod Wilson, Willem Van Kempen: drums
Frankie Vriens: keyboards
Daniel Guitarra: guitar
(iTunes moved back two years to the simply brilliant 2020 debut by Brass Owl and their modern retro rock on State Of Mind…try the hefty Land Shark as an example…it’s a hoot!)