I have to admit to having little knowledge of this band (it’s not named after a Texan Town) but Ole Frimer has been treading the blues boards for over thirty years and this latest, Live In Eppingen, is his seventeenth (counting other live releases, twelve if you don’t)! A quick reminder via the review Liz did of their 2015 live album helped with this one from 2019. Ole is a Danish singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and some of those albums I mention are with Blue Junction who had a number of successes in the US. Since 2008 however, he has been fronting his own band and delivering some quite remarkable blues-based music that, given the injection of rock, jazz, and the much-maligned ‘fusion’ brings a new dimension to the table. His style of playing is inspired by the techniques and feel of the likes of Jeff Beck and Albert Collins…which is alright by me. We also get some stunning interpretations of Eric Clapton’s and Robert Cray’s Old Love, Jeff Beck’s Brush With The Blues, and Gwendolyn Collins’ Got A Mind ToTravel plus Eddy Boyd’s The Blues Are Here To Stay: that shouts to me of exceedingly good taste.
It opens with The Clearing, the keyboard intro reminds me of a similar atmospheric build up Colin Towns always did when Gillan (the band) took to the stage. After the intro we get to hear the sound of callus on string and some very neat and imaginative fret work from Ole who uses the tremolo to great effect. The keyboard solo is also a triumph as Niels puts together some understated, thoughtful and effective patterns. This isn’t out and out blues but it is a bloody good instrumental. Sheltered Roads starts nice and gentle and Ole puts a suitable vocal to some keen lyrics; the guitar solo is pure blues with all strings used but with just the right number of notes to convey the emotions of the song. The Blues Is Here To Stay has always been a favourite of mine and so fear of ruination was there…I needn’t have worried, the interpretation of this Eddy Boyd song is faithful and sincere with a sufficient modern edge: the whole band obviously understand the blues too…listen to the rolling beats from the drums and the walking bass behind the whole song. The piano solo is reverential and still imaginative too. Why Are You Stayin’ is a delicious slow blues that utilises the recognised tropes but is still so very fresh…the guitar work is superb. A measure of how good it is? After its near eight minutes running time, I didn’t want it to end as it seemed to be over so much quicker. Single City ups the pace a bit with a funky blues and some superb harmonies from guitar and keys; not sure what some of the lyrics are but I don’t care when there is so much to listen to anyway and the guitar and piano solos means that’s forgiven! Old Love is the Clapton/Cray tune which was languid in its original format…after a careful and gentle guitar intro it adds weight whilst embracing the chord progressions. Ole does a cracking job on the vocals and, needless to say, the playing is excellent throughout and for all of the ten minute plus duration it soothes and excites in equal measure. The piano solo has Towns touches and a lilt you don’t often hear; the guitar sol has that Beck feel with tremolo and volume work that is so difficult to master but sounds great in such capable hands. Got A Mind To Travel written by Albert Collins wife and released by him in 1971 and this version is an upbeat reading that keeps the feel and passion but is quicker and delivers a great jazzy piano solo and the inevitable sensitive guitar solo that nods to Albert but is all Ole. The final track is a brave take on the master that is Jeff Beck and his Brush With The Blues…I listened to the original off Who Else! to remind me, and I can only say that I firmly believe Ole is the only one who could have pulled this off so successfully: his tone, feel and style of playing is (nearly) as mesmerising as Jeff’s…a remarkable achievement.
This may not be a typical blues album, but I loved every song, every note and already return to it often…especially the instrumentals that showcase Ole’s and his bands abilities so well. Try it and find it and buy it!
Bluesdoodles rating: A Wonderful album and diverse blues tinges album with a lot to offer regardless of favoured genre.
1. The Clearing
2. Sheltered Roads
3. The Blues Is Here To Stay
4. Why Are You Staying’
5. Single City
6. Old Love
7. Got A Mind To Travel
8. Brush With The Blues
Ole Frimer – guitar & vocal
Niels Ole Thorning – organ & keyboards
Jesper Bylling – bass
Claus Daugaard – drums
(The iTunes run on track brought me a welcome reminder of when Oli Brown was deep into the blues and his Here I am album.)