Review: The Stumble – The Houngan
Posted on: Saturday, Jun 27, 2009
(Star Jam Music: STU 475986-4)
As promised here’s a review of one we missed out on at release time – the second album from The Stumble – currently riding high as one of these shores finest bands, with their explosive live shows putting them on equal footing with anyone on the blues circuit at the moment – with the added bonus of them being firmly North West based as well!
“The Houngan” follows on from the excellent “The World Is Tough” – a 13-track mix of rocking blues, funky soul, a touch of country, and more – all impeccably performed and played by the band – Paul Melville (vocals), Colin Black (guitar and harmonica), Jonny Spencer (guitars), Simon Anthony (saxophone), Dave Heath (bass) and Boyd Tonner (drums).
Colin Black has long been one of my favourite guitar players and his slashing slide opens the album on the storming “It’s A Lie”, with a sort of Duane Allman meets Elmore James feel to his playing; the next track, “Bus Stop” sees the band in soulful mood, with a 60s Stax feel – Simon Anthony’s sax prominent here and customary gritty vocal from Paul Melville.
The pace is taken down on the lovely “Flesh and Bone” – firmly in soul territory again, with a hook to die for and ensemble backing vocals from Messrs. Anthony, Tonner and Melville, with blistering solo from Colin Black. The sinister title cut, “The Houngan” – a High Priest in the Voodoo religion in Haiti – rides on a guitar groove courtesy of Jonny Spencer and Boy Tonner, with Colin Black switching to harmonica – very fine indeed!
Elsewhere the boys rock out on “Maudie” – dominated by Simon Anthony’s sax, with a great solo, before a lovely arrangement of the timeless “Nobody’s Business”, with Colin Black showing his mastery of all things Peter Green / BB King, with beautiful guitar work and tone, and an aching vocal from Paul Melville – quite superbly performed recently at the Warrington Blues Festival.
“Your Love For Me” is a dip into the late, great Bo Diddley’s style, with this time, Jonny Spencer laying down the fine slide guitar; the country blues of “Georgia Sun” is another album highlight, with Jonny Spencer on Dobro and Colin Black again switching to harmonica.
“Headshot” is again reminiscent of classic Stax soul with another truly convincing vocal from Paul Melville, with the album finishing in rampant style with a romp through Howlin’ Wolf’s “Meet Me At The Bottom” – ending as it started with Colin Black’s slashing slide.
Anyone who has caught the band live don’t need telling by me how good they are, and it’s nice to report that this second cd truly reflects how good their show is – having seen the early incarnations of the band several times, it is gratifying to see how they have progressed to the ‘top of the tree’ – long may they prosper!