Nick Steed Five go adventuring on Feeling for the Blues

Manchester based Nick Steed, in case you don’t know about him, is a hard working keyboard player and vocalist who has traversed Europe and the UK adding his keys to performances with the likes of Norman Beaker Band, Larry Garner, Chris Farlowe, Sonja Kristina, Van Morrison, Steve Hackett and Ginger Baker, to name but a few. He has now assembled a band of like-minded musicians and formed The Nick Steed Five and together they have assembled twelve original tracks encompassing many hues of blues, rock and funk with the odd country twang for good measure. Called Feeling For The Blues, his recent album gives us the opportunity to see him front and centre rather than in a support role. All of his work with other bands means he has also assembled a number of significant talents as guests to add to the solid and skillful base the Five have put together.

On the opening track, Supercar Loan, the band lay down a jaunty base for the slide of Nick Mellor to slink around. The vocals are reminiscent of Knopfler in the spoken/sung way, although the song itself is a complex weave of an almost big band sound as the keys swirl and horns occasionally impose while the clever bass and drum patterns make this different from most songs of this kind. Boom Baby Boom keeps this feeling whilst changing the pace for a fairly languid and soulful blues with great piano sprinkling behind the verses. Nicholls’ piano solo is the highlight as it segues into a sax solo with a sultry feel to it. Next is Cas It Is What It Is which, I think, should read ‘Cos rather than “Cas”, but the track listing has it as this and who am I to argue? It’s another piano burbling, horn backed and pacey blues with sax and organ solos to give nice light and shade. Take Your Time is a slow burning soulful blues with a great piano, bass and organ intro before the rest join in. It’s a bit of an anomaly this one as it is very original and yet sounds like so many soul ballads. OK, the organ solo pulls it up a bit and the sentiment is beyond reproach but I may be skipping this one when I play the album next time. Title track, Feeling For The Blues dispels that minor disappointment as the jazz phrasing and brilliant bass and drum patterns give it a gentle blues feel that makes for a great lay back and drink atmosphere while you reflect on the lyrics and soak in the various elements…subtle guitar, sax solos, piano solo and that dazzling bass line. Hot Shot Lady ups the pace again with boogie piano and horns generating energy you can’t help but relish. The organ is subtle but essential behind the horn punctuations and neat piano and guitar solos. I’m On A Roll is next with more piano/organ overlays and horns with multi-tracked vocals and too little slide backing it all up. Cold Hearted Woman benefits from a typically class Beaker guitar solo in this short and fun track. Just Singin’ The Blues is back to the slow organ driven blues…this certainly works well even if the piano solo conjures up a funeral on Beale Street! Who’s To Blame? follows with some funk driven by tasty wah-wah guitar from Pete Mason who, thankfully, doesn’t fall into the Shaft trap and then we get another strong sax and organ solo too. In The Room takes us into a more rocky territory as, after a lovely drum intro, the horns, bass and keys play a blues rock phrasing that belies the actual instruments; the Hammond sounding organ solo and the varied and clever solo by Pete Mason has a rock edginess which more than reinforces this feeling and easily marks it as the best one for my tastes. The album closes with Cryin’ For You, which stays with a blues rock ethos as Mellor’s slide guitar sets the tone. It has nice sparse instrumentation behind the vocals and develops into a close runner for best track. In fact, these last two tracks leave me with a higher opinion of the album as a whole than might have been and it is these two I will return to again and again.

From that comment, you can probably guess that my summary for this release is mixed…there are highlights aplenty but feelings of what if and if only also impinge. This is their first album together remember and it is a very accomplished and enjoyable release and I am confident that the next one will be even better. A worthwhile addition for anyone who loves key and horn-driven blues with superb musicianship throughout, so saddle up and give it a try… sorry, it had to happen even after the Enid Blyton reference in the title; sometimes I can’t help myself! Oh, by the way, a bit more guitar for me next time if possible chaps?!

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing:/

  1. Supercar Loan
  2. Boom Baby Boom
  3. Cas It Is What It Is
  4. Take Your Time
  5. Feeling for the Blues
  6. Hot Shot Lady
  7. I’m On a Roll
  8. Cold Hearted Woman
  9. Just Singin’ the Blues
  10. Who’s to Blame?
  11. In the Room
  12. Cryin’ for You

Musicians:

Nick Steed: Piano, Organ, Other keys, Vocals

Steve Gibson: Drums

Kim Nishikawara: Saxophones

Peter Mason: Guitar

John Sandham: Bass

Guest Musicians:

Steve ‘Howie’ Hallworth: Trumpet

Linda Jennings: Backing vocals

Norman Beaker: Guitar – 1,8

Nick Mellor: Slide guitar – 1,7,12

Tony Nicholls: Piano solo – 2

Larry Garner: Guitar – 6

Recorded Live at Demon Studio’s Mere, Knutsford

Nick Steed Five go adventuring on Feeling for the Blues

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