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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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THE WHISKEY BROTHERS

Bottle Up and Go

BIG BEAR RECORDS CD54

 

 

Bottle up and Go

Key to the Highway

Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do

Tell God

See See Rider

Buzz Buzz

Walkin' Blues

I Feel Like a Millionaire

You Got Me Runnin'

Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

Hi-Heel Sneakers

Alberta

Crow Jane

Sitting on Top of the World

My Babe

Wee Wee Hours

Dr John's Boogie

I've Got My Mojo Working

Recorded June 2015 at Gospel Oak Studio, Warwickshire [51:57]


Those righteous down-home boys from Birmingham (Eng), The Whiskey Brothers, have been into the studios of rural Warwickshire to lay down 18 straight-to-the point tracks. The repertoire comes directly from the Blues song book, calling upon Classic, Country and Chicago amongst other variants. The results are stripped back, unpretentious, succinct and enjoyable.

The title track is Tommy McLennan’s classic, sung by appealingly rough-voiced Richard Heath, who also wields the mandolin, whilst Gerry Smith is securely anchored to the piano. Key to the Highway doesn’t hand around – it’s over in under two minutes – and there’s a tightly rolling version of the Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee Gospel opus, Tell God. There’s a laid back performance of the See See Rider whilst the up-tempo and joyful Buzz Buzz, a Smith original, sounds quite like the kind of thing Paul Jones used to do, and still does with the Manfreds.

Walkin’ Blues is not the Jack Dupree song – it’s another Smith tune – but the up-tempo gospel -drenched I Feel Like A Millionaire is assuredly a Dupree song, and he must be a favourite of the pianist’s. They make a decent enough stab at Nobody Knows You, though its exposes some limitations in their expressive reach, whereas Hi-Heel Sneakers is much more persuasive. Crow Jane is an older number and with alternative lyrics, and title, is something that Pokey Lafarge sings on his rounds. They take Broonzy’s Wee Wee Hours very slowly and their joint tribute to Dr John, a fine boogie, is engaging. They end with a boisterous I’ve Got My Mojo Working.

This is an appealing album, showing a fine knowledge of the repertoire, though I’d have welcomed more mandolin and more solos. I wanted to hear Smith take on Leroy Carr, say, or Jelly Roll. It would add variety beyond the stylistic variety already programmed. In short, this is a nice ‘club session’ disc.

Jonathan Woolf



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