First impressions can be deceiving. Just one look at Black TarPoon and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d be about to experience an intensive stoner rock band, or maybe a massive riff-based juggernaut not too dissimilar to The Workhorse Movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. On their 2021 release ‘The Thad EP’ these Texan musicians go deep into a roots based sound where drawling vocals mesh with a country-blues groove. Their choice of band name – an anti-heroin reference – lends a certain sense of unease and Their cutting lyrics lend a further edge, but otherwise, their acoustic based sounds are surprisingly accessible. …And very retro in a 90s style.
Somewhere near the beginning of their career, blues duo Black Pistol Fire released ‘Big Beat ’59’, a raw as hell album that cast them in a musical mould somewhere between The White Stripes and The Dead Exs. It didn’t always show a lot of invention in terms of garage blues, but it had a lot of balls, resulting in the kind of rough and ready record that should’ve appealed to all lovers of the style. The albums which followed showed a slight musical progression each time, along with a slightly slicker sound and the suggestion of a slightly bigger budget. This culminated in the release of 2017’s ‘Deadbeat Graffiti’ where the expected Black Pistol Fire raucousness was tempered by far more of an indie rock/blues hybrid sound in places. It was a sound that suited the band well, and on tracks like ‘Fever Breaks’ and ‘Bully’ they even appeared to give Arctic Monkeys a run for their money.
When you’ve made most of your reputation as a live act, it’s a massive blow when a global pandemic dictates that you can’t go out and deliver riffs to the masses. This less than ideal situation drove 20 Watt Tombstone back into the studio at the end of 2020, breaking a five year silence of recorded work. While the results aren’t exactly plentiful, they’re more than welcome, since this pair of recordings reacquaint listeners with their no-nonsense, self-described “death blues” sound and of their chief influences. ‘Year of The Jackalope’ brings together a pair of cover tunes delivered in dirty and typical 20 Watt style, acting as both a welcome return for fans and a brilliant introduction for others.
In 1968, Capitol Records issued a selection of tracks recorded by Curtis Knight with Jimi Hendrix as the ‘Get That Feeling’ LP. These session recordings, made a few years earlier, were a deliberate attempt to cash in on the guitarist’s meteoric rise to fame over the previous eighteen months. Over the years, various combinations of those recordings made for the PPX and RSVP labels were issued as unlicensed albums in shoddy packaging, destined to fill the discount shelves of supermarkets and petrol station shops.
Issued in March 2015, ‘You Can’t Use My Name’ represents the first “Hendrix Family Approved” release of the session material. The chosen numbers allow a good insight into the range and talents of the younger Jimi, making it a worthwhile compilation.
For almost everyone, Joan Osborne will be best remembered for her mid nineties hit ‘One of Us’, but her long career has thrown up so many other gems along the way. Even that mega-hit’s parent album, 1995’s ‘Relish’ featured far superior tracks: with ‘Spider Web’, she introduced the world to her sassy blend of blues and soul via an insatiable groove and sultry vocal and her cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’, slowed down to a spooky crawl, ran rings around Zimmerman’s rather jerky original recording. Across several other far more neglected albums, Joan’s vocal talents continued to shine. ‘Dead Roses’, a particular highlight from her 2006 release ‘Pretty Little Stranger’, suggested she could rival Bonnie Raitt in the bluesy stakes; various cuts from 2012’s ‘Bring It On Home’ demonstrated her husky take on various R&B standards to great effect and 2017’s ‘Songs of Bob Dylan’ had plenty to offer anyone with a keen interest in different takes on a familiar back-catalogue. Wherever you choose to dip into Joan’s work, there’s something to enjoy…and always a nagging feeling that she should have been bigger. Perhaps her over reliance on other people’s material has hindered her being a star on a global scale, but there’s no questioning her vocal talent. However, none of her previous highlights are a match for her 2020 release ‘Trouble and Strife’.