If your upbringing colours your music bent, then listening to classical and blues would certainly create an interesting blend. (Although mercifully mine didn’t otherwise I’d be listening to Klaus Wunderlich and Jim Reeves as my father did…although, thinking about it, maybe Klaus is the reason I love the Hammond.) Then, via blues, you start listening to the greatest blues jam band, the Grateful dead, before you get the calling and gain a degree in philosophy and religion. This is the recipe that graces the background to the irreverent, Reverend Freakchild.
Last year he released his twelfth album, called Bodhisattva Blues, which paid tribute to The Dead as well as the Beatles, Muddy Waters and the other Reverend…Gary Davis. For information, in Mahayana Buddhism it means :”a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings.) With some stellar talents helping out, he does a brilliant update to Muddy’s I Can’t Be satisfied; the slide is majestic. Little Red Rooster is similarly well done with the slide and piano coming together with a great vocal to make this familiarly different…and that takes serious talent. The Dead offerings are also honest updates with added Freak. Rev Gary’s Death Don’t have No Mercy is slinky slide, flute and voice and, even though the flute occasionally (and purposely) sounds like someone practicing the recorder, it works tremendously well. The Beatles Yer Blues is second only to Jeff Healey in brilliant versions and Lennon’s Imagine is almost unrecognisable; imagine(!) Lou Reed doing a soul drenched blues version…and it is now a song I can listen to…sorry, never liked the original at all.
Bodhisattva Blues is a quality 4 Doodle Paws album that is a wonderful addition to blues and blues guitar lovers with enough variation to satisfy any appetite.
Now, in 2021, the Rev. Freakchild has managed, despite the virus, put together an album of blues, funk, soul and then put some jam on it! On Supramundane Blues he supplies thirteen tracks of equal skill and variation and there’s even a bonus disc available that promises a Psychedelic Trip Hop Mass! The title is a real word: “being above the mundane world, transcending our system, celestial.”He’s joined, once more by a stellar cast including fellow Rev, Shawn Amos.
The Rev has also brought Personal Jesus back to respectability, in my view anyway…forget Johnny Cash or Depeche Mode; this is the one. He also performs a similar job on the Billy Gibbons song, Jesus Just Left Chicago: no 12 bars, just voice, harp and acoustic that give the song a whole new outlook. Now to a song that has a lot to match up to: Blind Lemon Jefferson’s original and Stuart Smith’s version (with Glenn Hughes giving his best ever vocal performance in my humble) of See My Grave Is Kept Clean are definitive…I won’t mention Dylan’s! The Rev does come close; his version has delicious lap steel adding atmosphere and a great vocal too. I just listened to the three of them back to back and they all work on different levels and work together brilliantly. How about taking a folk-rock version of a traditional hymn and then making it blues too? the Rev does that with the Jefferson Airplane ’69 template built and improved upon. The final track is a brave sixteen minute song that sound at the start like a harpist over Manfred’s Blinded By The Light; it then travels through many themes, schemes and false starts and stops including lots of spoken word sections and references to Personal Jesus again, Fast Car with a great piece of guitar work around the 5 minute mark that has what sounds like Spike Milligan doing Eddie Seagoon behind it! So this track is, for me, fast forwarded to that mark each time…not disrespecting the Rev’s words or ethos, it’s just that when I listen to music, that’s what I want to hear.
So, once again, The Rev Freakchild proves his skill and indisputable ability to make cover versions special.
Supramundane Blues, is a definite 4 Doodle Paws effort and a wonderful album with lots to enjoy and lots to ‘dig into’ as repeated listens reveals new experiences each time.
(Inevitably, iTunes ran onto another Reverend: this time I enjoyed the 2012 Between The Ditches album Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band…lead off track was the lovely Devils Look Like Angels: quality guitar led blues)