304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful, varied and always entertaining album of blues with rock that is well worth seeking out.
A band of some renown in the US, Bubba and the Big Bad Blues have been playing for over ten years and have just released their second album, called Drifting. Their sound is billed as “a mixture of Texas Blues, SoCal Blues Rock, Southern Soul and New Orleans R&B,” and that is true to a certain extent. However, their influences tend toward the likes of Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Allman Brothers Gov’t Mule…plus, when you hear a track that sounds similar to Deep Purple revving up for a live rendition of Highway Star then you just know they are much more that their PR suggests.
I Want to Make Love to You Baby opens proceedings with a swing, with horns and Hammond and guitar building a quality blues song that also has a nice touch of piano too. The picked guitar solo has some fascinating runs fitted into a blues structure. Helping Hand is the song that has the Purple beginning with even the bass and drums using the Highway Star live intro and then it switches into a heavy riffed blues with Hendrix styles appearing in the vocals as well as guitar…the bass is on fore too. It has the added benefit of a great Hammond solo and a guitar solo that keeps the Purple flowing…irresistible. Drifting opens with Child In Time like chords, the horns join in and then it all reigns back into slow blues ballad of pure quality and the Hammond’s delicate touches help develop the mood. The genius really arrives with the guitar solo that begins with low string/neck work before developing into an almost jazz styled, picked piece that’s revisited with a few variations at the end.
Do What’s Right is blues-rock in the SRV style with the solo surprising in its individuality. A short sax solo follows and it is a good ‘un, but I wanted Hammond or more guitar…but that’s probably just me. She’s Your Problem Now leaps out as a Texas shuffle with SRV – isms but the band use that framework to build great backing to a cautionary tale of love and its potential costs! A sparkling Hammond solo that has rock at its roots is followed by a tasty guitar solo of runs that keep you guessing…both a bit short though.
Amongst Butterflies is a song by none other than Paul Weller, although if you listen to the original with its wah guitar and funky soul, then compare…the opening is more Purple warm-up exercises and then it falls back into the funk soul groove but with added weight. That beginning may sound contrary but it does blend nicely as the Hammond stays and provides extra weight. Keep Moving On shares some DNA with the Sam Cooke song of the same name, even if it isn’t that song.
A lovely Hammond led, a soulful song with a dash of Southern Rock in a Neil Young vein (but tuneful!) A nice paced solo illuminates the central section while the Hammond, bass and drums lay down the colour filled backing. I Own the Road moves up a gear (pun intended) with a Crosstown Traffic tinged beginning this out and out rock with roll song…a pounding piano backing and soloing reinforce the r’n’r feel and a couple of superb, but short, guitar solos add to the road rage atmosphere. Lose These Blues does the exact opposite…a true, traditionally structured blues with updated lyrics that bring a smile: the kids all look like the delivery man and there are Amazon boxes all over the house! Another sparkling guitar solo sets the song alight with its varied and measured playing.
I’ve Been Down is heavy blues with glorious Hammond and guitar chords introducing a slow-paced story of despair…the guitar solo echoes the emotions but lifts the listener at the same time. One complaint: the fade starts with thirty seconds to go and so we lose what sounds like another excellent guitar solo. Otherwise, this powerful song has a feel of the great Miller Anderson with the guitar and vocal tone and that is a major compliment. If You Need Me is rock and roll wrapped in a mix of R’n’B and glam rock…weird but it works and the slide guitar solos are brilliant as they travel ‘twixt the speakers.
The final track, My Love, may seem a surprising closer as it is an acoustic-led ballad…however, it is such a moving song about lost love and has another couple of excellent electric solos in the middle and as the denouement to keep it varied and interesting.
This may be only their second album, but the maturity and skills on display show they have earned and learned there on the live circuit and deliver some very high-quality blues and rock on this strong release.
I Want to Make Love to You Baby
Do What’s Right
She’s Your Problem Now
Keep Moving On
I Own the Road
Lose These Blues
I’ve Been Down
If You Need Me
Christopher ‘Bubba’ Clerc – guitar, vocals
Jason Lozano – drums
Doug Swanson – bass
Sammy Avila – Hammond
Tony Braunagle – Drums
Mike Barry – Bass
Mike Finnegan – Organ
Richard Rosenberg – Trombone
Les Lovitt – Trumpet
Rick Solem – Piano
(iTunes skipped merrily onto Buddy Bohn from the Purple People label sampler released back in 1973. His song, Vermouth Rondo, is a mesmerising classical acoustic piece played impeccably.)