Review: Paul Mark & The Van Dorens – “Blood & Treasure”

Posted on: Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009

Paul Mark - Blood and Treasure


“Blood & Treasure”

(Radiation Records – RDTN 5901)

The New York City-based Paul Mark & The Van Dorens recently released this follow-up to 2006’s “Trick Fiction” – Paul Mark’s seventh cd for the NYC-based indie label, Radiation Records – recorded in Memphis at the famous Ardent Studios, co-produced by Mark himself and Jeff Powell, who has worked with, amongst many, Big Star, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Afghan Wigs.

A hard recording to categorise – with a mix of rootsy rock, some soul, a touch of rockabilly and some blues leanings – with ten original songs from Paul Mark, and just one cover, all highlighting his tough guitar work and fine voice. He is ably assisted by the band – James Strain (bass), Harry Peel (congas and drums), Rick Steff (Hammond organ and piano) – with Susan Marshall and Jackie Johnson on backing vocals.

The opening “Everything Is Nothing” is an uptempo romp, which is followed by a change of direction to the slow, soul-flavoured “Don’t Get Me Started” – with the standout “Raise The Roof” again in the soulful groove – a bit reminiscent of the great Southside Johnny this one, with a lovely retro feel.

“Lotta Things To Say” gallops along in a rockabilly style – a great dance tune in the live set I would image, with Rick Steff’s organ really nice on this track; “Let Them Talk” features a tremendous vocal from Paul Mark, as the pace is taken down again; the closing “Ruff House” rides a SRV Texas groove as Mark shows off his guitar prowess on this album-closing instrumental.

Reading about his influences – the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf, Doc Boggs, OV Wright – you can see how his music is so diverse and hard to pigeon-hole, not a bad thing at all!

Not one for the blues purists out there, but a fine, varied recording from a true road warrior – finely crafted songs, all beautifully played by Paul Mark and his band – and a delightfully packaged cd as well!


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