Back in 1998 a young man began to set fretboards buzzing (not literally) when the Guitarist magazine announced the Young Guitarist of the Year…Scott McKeon was certainly worthy of that award; his work as a solo artist (his 2006 solo album Can’t Take It No More is my favourite) and with the band Rufus Black proved it.
For the last few years however, he has been a much in demand session player and has played with (amongst others) Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa and Doyle Bramhall II, he has been a member of Sir Tom Jones’ band for the last six years and yet still found time to visit the hallowed Fender factory and only get a new Stratocaster, modelled his own’62 Strat and had his own signature pickups installed too…Scott also has a signature fuzz pedal to boot! Now he has a new solo album out called New Morning that just oozes class, variety and style.
Opener, Fight No More, leaves you in no doubt as we get some neat snare and bass drum work introducing a fascinating riff in a stuttering, Trower way, then a wah’d phrasing that has just sold the entire album to me; the bass is stunning too and the Hammond washes are just right. The central solo is straightforward (?) fret wizardry before a picked/wah’d solo slows the pace for a while: the simple repeated vocals are blues drenched too.
The title track, New Morning, has a deceptively simple guitar intro (it isn’t!) and the subtle slide plays nicely to back the stunning flurries Scott throws in with such aplomb. A slow, bluesy, burning instrumental that makes me green with envy: it speaks as loudly as any lyric could in the way he uses bends, runs and bottleneck so instinctively. Zapruder is next up and, as the only thing I know is that it is the name of the man that was filming the JFK parade on that fateful day in 1963, I will go with that: the music begins with subtlety before a heavy riff kicks in and the Hammond vociferously joins the party….it slows again as Scott runs the gamut of the fretboard, brilliantly…then, out of nowhere the speed picks up and the band join in delivering a blues rock song without lyrics before gently closing.
Fego, again just guessing, is about an emotionally available person rather than the a chain of cafes and restaurants. It’s a slow, traditional blues base but with a sparseness that fills every second…yes, I’m an oxymoron too! This is so layered that even after half a dozen listens, I hear something new and nice; the playing is class from all of the band and the guitar is again speaking volumes without a word being said.
Angerstein Road could be in Portsmouth or Scunthorpe (apparently) but who cares when it is a track that with the acoustic sounding like it could be a road in America in the 30s…simple, effective, lovely. Third Eye Witness is mix of many things: off-kilter rhythm, fuzzed guitar tones, haunting and melodic vocals, some blues, some funk and it all comes together nicely…it takes a few listens to get it, but it’s worth persevering I promise you…and the fuzzed (signature fuzzed) solo is acerbic and brilliant.
Crossfader, the thing, is a box of tricks (that’s me getting technical) that helps adjust levels and mixes while recording, although DJs have appropriated it to do scratchy things…oh for the days when DJ meant something! Crossfader, the song, has a jazzy, Les Dawson on the Hammond (ask your Dad) opening couple of minutes that is still a delight before it evolves into a classic jam, giving the band room to stretch…not blues, but bluesy and enthralling.
Next up is Everything Is Nothing that features Gavin Conder (from Rufus Black) on vocals; it’s a funky, rapid fire workout with Faces like jangling guitar chords and a guitar solo that uses all twenty-one frets and all six strings beautifully….rounded off with clever snare/bass/hi-hat/cymbal interplay.
Gavin is back on the final track, Take Me Back. This is blues in every sense with the emotion drenched vocals and traditional base…this is the sort of thing Rod Stewart used to do with Jeff Beck: I can imagine it on the great Truth album…love it.
This may not be suit every blues lovers taste as it leans heavily toward instrumentals…but to a blues guitar lover, it is an essential addition to my collection and, I would suggest, yours too.
5 Doodle Paws – A Stupendous blues guitar masterclass that may not be to every blues lovers taste as it leans heavily toward instrumentals…but to a blues guitar lover, it is an essential addition to my collection and, I would suggest, yours too.
Fight No More
Third Eye Witness
Everything Is Nothing
Take Me Back
Scott McKeon – Guitars, Vocals on Fight No More
Jeremy Stacey – Drums
Rocco Palladino – Bass
Ross Stanley – Hammond Organ/ Wurlitzer/ Piano on Fight No More/ New Morning/ Fego/ Zapruder/ Crossfader
Ben Jones – Guitars on New Morning/ Zapruder/ Crossfader/ Everything Is Nothing/ Take Me Back
Paul Stacey – Guitars on Fego/ Crossfader. Piano/ Vibes on New Morning
Gavin Conder – Vocals on Third Eye Witness/ Everything Is Nothing/ Take Me Back. Percussion on Everything Is Nothing
Hannah Robinson & Jessica Greenfield – Vocals on Fight No More
(The run on track from iTunes brought me some, relatively, lightweight rock from Scott Rolaf…Joe Lynn Turner does the vocals and, I believe, didn’t agree to this release. Whatever, it is a pleasant album called Light Of Day and lead off track Spinnin’ Round is like JLT’s Fandango days.)