Forget the evidence of James Oliver’s previous fine blues band, Glas, as now as the titular bandleader he has taken a different, albeit related road.
This was evidenced by his well received ‘solo’ album called Twang; the latest from this talented Welsh guitarist is a five track EP called Goofin’ Around and it, once again, brings together a fiery mix of blues, rock-a-billy, rock and roll with lashings of true rhythm and blues on the side.
Once again, he and the band put a fresh complexion on the sounds of Duane Eddy, Link Wray and a bit of Hank until, that is, my favourite (and the last track) called Ty-Coch which is Welsh for Red House and also happens to be a well known pub, which may not be connected – regardless, this is an ingenious interpretation of the Hendrix classic and is packed to the gills with quality playing from all of the band but, particularly, James as he takes the essence of Hendrix and channels it brilliantly into this clever ‘re-composition’.
Elsewhere, James manages to transplant good old fashioned blue suede into Welsh Rockin’ Blues…he takes some recognisable tropes from rock ’n’ roll, update them and put in a sterling guitar solo in amongst the valleys.
Next up, his humour shines through on The Chicken and Duck…more quality rock ’n’ roll as we join the band having a “boogie in the hen house’…an another solo that takes all that is good about those early rocking blues songs and brings it bang up to date while sounding like it was recorded in 1957.
Goofin’ Around is a Bill Haley song and is suitably updated but it also admirably keeps the spirit of the wonderful Comet guitarist, Franny Beecher and, although it omits the best upright, but laid down, bass solo ever, it still has the deftness of touch that James always brings to the fretboard.
Penultimate track, The Only Thing I Lack is a Cadillac, follows the same template as he tells us he’s bored with Ford, and wants a Cadillac in which (presumably) his rockabilly underwear (yes really, he fits those in as well as a couple of Welsh references) and the guitar and piano solos have a similar sense of humour as well as a reverence for this times past.
If you like rockabilly played with panache, reverence, humour and six string skills, you’ll love this; plus, the reworking of Red House is worth the entry fee on its own
4 Doodle Paws: another Wonderful, bang up to date retrospective from James Oliver that sparkles anew.
Goofin’ Around Out on 14th May 2021, this is, at the moment, a digital only release.
1. Welsh Rockin’ Blues
2. The Chicken and Duck
3. Goofin’ Around
4. The Only Thing I Lack is a Cadillac
5. Ty Coch
Billy Lee Williams-piano/harmonica
(The real old time blues arrived courtesy of iTunes with James Wiggins and his piano led, harp drenched Weary Heart Blues from 1929. Well, actually it was more James Oliver and his Twang album, but I thought a different artist deserved an airing.)