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’.
“Time catches up to you…and comes for us all” sings Matty James Cassidy during the chorus of ‘After All’, an instant highlight from his 2020 full length release ‘Old Souls’. It’s a sentiment that really seems to fit, as for the artist formerly known as Matty James, it seems he’s had nothing but time to reach this point in his career. Over a series of independent releases, he’s honed his mix of rock, blues and country to the point where this album genuinely sounds like a work calling out for greater attention. For anyone previously aware of Cassidy’s work, it’s a record that will more than entertain and thanks to a stronger sounding band and a much better production value, he’s turned in some of his best songs to date. ‘Old Souls’ has very clearly been made on a bigger budget, although fans should not worry that “bigger budget” somehow translates into “smoother material”, or be a case of that old chestnut “selling out” (a favourite war cry by record buyers who fear change and aren’t musicians themselves).
2019 was a big year for UK blues rock band Big River. After a few years of tireless gigging, they’d started to make higher profile appearances. Perhaps more importantly, they finally released their debut album ‘Redemption’, a long time in the planning. We last spoke to founding guitarist Damo Fawsett four years ago, so he was keen to come back to Real Gone and fill us in on the band’s activities. This time, we got the full picture as we also got to spend time with Ant Wellman (bass), Adam Bartholomew (vocals) and Joe Martin (drums). Obviously, they’re all thrilled to bits with the response the album has gained…