Monday, 27 August 2012

Robert Johnson's Door

Robert Johnson's Door
Blue on Black
Blue on Black are a three-piece British blues band comprising of Keith Howe (guitar and vocals), Paul Arnott (bass guitar and vocals) and Nigel Masters (percussion and vocals). 'Weapons grade rock and renegade blues' is their genre description of choice; it's a new one on me, but once I started playing the CD I came to understand just how apt it was.

The album's inspiration is made clear right from the start:

'The CD's title is a metaphor for all the artists who continue to shape their own futures by looking back at the greats, especially the legendary Robert Johnson'.

The roots of the project are visible throughout. King O' Spades is a short instrumental introduction - 'just Keith and his Owens Crossroads Resonator, lost somewhere down those Mississippi back roads', before the full band bursts into Robert Johnson's Door, singing of 'the 60 million fingers, who would knock upon on your door.' It's a real rock-out; catchy and engaging, fully indicative of what is to come.

There's a temporary switch to slower blues with Cold Wind Blows before the heavy, riff-driven Poor Boy Do wakes up the neighbours.

Up-tempo numbers dominate, sung with a serious blues growl. Subject matter ranges from further nods to the past and its heroes (such as Another Man Down) to modern day concerns (such as Information Only, about people avoiding face to face situations) and personal experiences (Bad Blood, written by Keith when he was ill and in hospital).

There are plenty of great guitar solos spread across the CD, including one by special guest Larry Miller on Black Smoke Blues. Elsewhere, occasional appearances by Gareth Young (keyboards), Al Rideout (harmonica) and the Konneckt 6 Horns (brass) fill out the sound.

Tack list

King O' Spades (prelude)
Robert Johnsons Door
Cold Wind Blows
Poor Boy Do
Means to an End
Black Smoke Blues
Information Only
Man Down
Body and Soul
Blue is...
Bad Blood
Louisiana State
Fifty Bucks
Passing Moment (intro)
Angel on Hold (reprise)

All in all, it's a very powerful, serious and uncompromising slice of blues rock and another band to add to the 'love to see live' list.

For more information about Blue on Black, please head for their official website and the GFI Promotions page.

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