The inspiration for the latest album by Durham born musician Mike Ross is, according to its creator, “I The Peripheral”, a science fiction mystery-thriller by William Gibson in which people can visit alternate pasts and potentially change the timeline. To be honest apart from the atmospheric synthesiser sounds played on a Moog that introduce the album and which feature again as transitions between some other tracks, and the space helmet that is the focus of the distinctive artwork for this collection, the listener wouldn’t necessarily identify with this theme. Whatever rocks your boat, Mike!
Mike Ross Launches The Clovis Limited Part 2 a follow-up to Clovis Pt. 1. Part 2 is actually rather good! A strong collection of rocking songs full of rich guitar textures and melodic lines, played mostly by the man himself, apart from the solid drumming of Darren Lee. Opening track “Thanks a Lot” kicks off with a thumping riff and features three separate changes of gear, a foretaste of the expansive approach taken to song construction throughout. “None of Your Business” starts with a nifty run up the neck punctuated by pushes on the drums before a propelling riff kicks in. Like other songs on this album, there’s a change of pace with a longish atmospheric half pace instrumental section that leads back into the chorus of “none of your business, just leave me alone.”
“Hammer” is a mid-paced country tinged number, the only non-original song on the album (Paul Dent of Mother Sugar being responsible for the terrible opening line “selfish as hunger, mortal as sin”), which has a yearning vocal and builds to an excellent fiery, bluesy solo. “Tell Jerry” starts with the sort of guitar jamming and general goofing around that I imagine Mike does a lot of, and pretty much continues in the same vein with his guitar echoing all over a nimbly rooted bass line. About as filler as you can get but enjoyable.
“The Loser” is another change of tone as Mr Ross comes all over Southern American on an entertaining ramble at mid-tempo. Some nice self-harmonising on this. Whistling and radio ham meets 50s sci-fi sound effects segue this into the mighty “Leviathan” which has a ponderous feel as sinuous slide guitars play repeating motifs over a booming bass, heavy in the mix.
The stand out track is “Unforgiven” which is a shameless homage to the Allman Brothers with its twin harmonised guitars and repeated melody lines, and a rising, clean (for once disregarding the ton of effects on most other tracks) solo. Great organ on this. More sound effects lead into another superb track the jauntily riffing and multi-guitar layered “Don’t Say A Word”, which is a nifty little rocker full of neat guitar fills and a personal favourite.
“Shoot You if You Run” ends the set, a heavy, densely layered soundscape with Mike emoting over the top of his own multitracked vocals on the chorus, a wailing guitar burns away over the thumping bass and drums before disintegrating to leave a single echoing guitar playing semi-discordant phrases like a demented Hank Marvin meets Dick Dale while a broadcast by Lord Haw Haw, the broadcasting Nazi stooge from WWII plays underneath (meant to resonate with modern listeners being fed lies by politicians etc).
A bonus track (never quite sure what the point is of not namechecking a song that is included on a CD and is going to be heard etc; this has always seemed like a pointless affectation) is an equally enjoyable alternate take on “Unforgiven”, this time with the title being sung repeatedly by a multi-tracked Mike Ross. An interesting collection that bears repeated listening.
Watch out for PT 3.
Bluesdoodles rating: Great Listening – A worthwhile addition to your collection Why? An interesting collection that bears repeated listening.
1. Thanks A Lot
2. None Of Your Business
3. The Only Place You Ever Take Me Is Down
5. Tell Jerry
6. The Loser
9. Don’t Say A Word
10. Shoot You If You run
11. Unforgiven (Ramport Transition) **BONUS TRACK** not available on digital and not listed in album credits.
All Tracks Written by Mike Ross (except ‘Hammer’ written by Paul Dent)
Mike Ross – Vocals, guitars, piano, organ, synth, Fender bass, percussion
Darren Lee – Drums
Ricky Kinrade – Bass
Rob Millis & Stevie Watts – Organ
Mike Ross Launches The Clovis Limited Part 2
Join Mike Ross for his Album Launch online show – Thursday 29th October – 7pm EST. Streaming details will be provided after Purchase.
The launch show will be the first full performance of the whole of the new album with special augmented line-up, featuring Jade ‘Like the Stone’ Williams on BV’s AND Stevie ‘Keys’ Watts on organ plus Darren Lee on drums and Dan Lyons on bass. Mike will be broadcasting the whole show using multiple cameras as well as pre-recorded video footage to really make the most of the streaming format.
The show will be opened by Brighton heavy rockers ‘The Dead Reds.
Tickets available here https://shop.mikerossmusic.co.uk/product/the-clovis-limit-pt-2-album-launch-show-ticket
Check out ‘An Introduction to Mike Ross’ on his YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/jhjAwKqk938 for an honest, revealing, insight into the man and his music.
Narrated by Mike himself, the slideshow film is like a DVD extra and offers many intimate insights into Mike Ross: the man and the musician. Starting with his birth in Durham and childhood in the North-East of England, Mike tells his tale and, from the first, explains the huge importance that music has played in it.
You’ll hear Mike talk about his career in various bands, then his previous solo releases, such as the Americana-tinged ‘Spindrift’, then ‘Jenny’s Place’, explaining the significance of the track ‘Dark Powder’ on it. ‘Jenny’s Place’ has racked up tens of thousands of radio and streaming plays and Mike has toured it on three different continents.