Black Country Boy

A new favourite, Doc and his seven ‘blues professors’ can be pigeon-holed quite easily – providing you have a vacant dozen or more pigeon holes! Alt country, blues, Americana, rock-a-billy, shuffling bottleneck, ska – all from an oblique (psychotherapist’s) view point and a Stetson brim-full of humour and understated musical excellence. A politically aware band making a statement! Black Country Boy is a ‘must have’ purchase.
Review by Russel

Black Country Boy

An unusual title for an album, given that the band is based around the London area, but the good Doc was raised on the edge of The Black Country. Its very much a blues album of today, plenty of political satire, and reference to our modern maladies. On that basis alone, it is the blues! dark humour is also present, as befits the subject matter.

First, ‘Black Country Boy’, takes a train ride, the rhythm of the tracks evident as the Black Country towns and scenery slip by. Soot belches out, covering all, its a bit of well crafted fun, rooted in our industrial past.

‘The Fal$e Prophet Blue$’, casts a much darker cloud over man’s intolerance, a fast buck, and consumerism at all cost. Narrated by a gruff-voiced Doc, to a riff that gallops along nicely, with Lawrence Davies, harmonica and Donnie Burke’s honeyed guitar making their presence felt. ‘Goodbye Mary Jane’, brings a country & western song that canters along, complete with chorus and the distinctive presence of Mademoiselle Chat Noir’s violin, it recalls love of a femme fatale, and lightens the mood. Even deeper into ‘cowboy’ territory, the violin more prominent, for a surgical, ‘Look Into My Heart’, based on an old Harry Jackson song. Time to move back firmly into blues territory, and a reflection on the dangers of the road. ‘Pedestrian Crossroads Blues’, turns, going down to the crossroads, into a whole new perspective. Of course it ends in death, as befits the blues, this time flattened by a truck! the car is king, as we listen to the Black Cats violin, layered over Donnie’s slide. Onto another updated blues subject, ‘Murder Suicide Blues’, the tale of death for love, its country blues with the delightful fiddle, rightfully taking the lead. The subject may be dark but the song is fine, with the Doc adding the gritty lyrics.

We up the pace with a more traditional blues riff, lovely slide, and dirty guitar chords, greed rules, beware, its the, ‘Biodiesel Blues’, the crop to fuel our lifestyle instead of feeding the people, serious social comment, befitting some serious blues chords, superb!

‘Church Going Blues’, is the gospel according to Muddy Waters, with lyrics inspired by this quote from the great man, ‘Phew you gotta go to church to get the particular things in your soul you know‘. Its a great, hard hitting sermon.

I’m trying to avoid conveying this CD track by track, but its not easy, the subject matter is a serious reflection on our collective morals and way of life today, it also happens to be very enjoyable. More slide, and a driving rhythm, from Simon Minney on base and Graham Chapman on drums, underscores ‘Wannabe Outlaw Blues’. With lyrics accommodating Daniel Craig, ‘Layer Cake’, Inland Revenue, and bank robbery, you know its going to be a good, a storming closure to the album. The tune is ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’ with some lyrics, ‘stolen’ from Dylan, the whole is excellent. Like cheating the taxman, this CD is a steal, from a band that entertains whilst making observations on the worlds plight, its the return of the protest song. I’m very pleased to have a copy in my hands, and recommend you check it out.

Words & Photo Graham Munn

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