Review: Oli Brown – Heads I Win Tails You Lose

Posted on: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oli Brown

Oli Brown

“Heads I Win Tails You Lose”

Ruf Records RUF 1160

Oli Brown is one of the brightest young singer/guitarists in the UK, who has been attracting an increasing amount of praise and admiration from the blues cognoscenti. The latest dignitary to add some momentum to Oli’s burgeoning career is none less than the legendary Mike Vernon, who has produced this album for Ruf Records. The excellent backing band comprises Dave Lennox on keys, Jamie Little on drums and Gary Rackham on bass. Ten of the twelve tracks on the CD are original compositions by Oli Brown (two in acknowledged collaboration with Mike Vernon).

The album bursts into life with “Evil Soul”, which rolls and tumbles at a cracking pace and boasts a blistering guitar solo. “Makes Me Wonder” is a Stevie Ray Vaughan-influenced driving shuffle, which is followed by a heavier rock beat in the shape of “Keeping My Options Open” and “Speechless”, the latter delivering a beautifully mellow guitar solo.

There is a catchy, upbeat version of “Fever”, which is contrasted by a couple of slower numbers, the bluesy ballad, “Not A Word I Say”, and the moody rocker, “I Can Make Your Day”. A funky edge is introduced with “Real Good Time” and “Take A Look Back”, both of which are expertly underpinned by the superb rhythm section. A fine rendition of the Bill Withers number, “No Diggity”, gives way to the slow blues, “Love’s Gone Cold”, before the album is brought to a close by “On Top Of The World” with a return of the funky mood.

The guitar work on the album underlines Oli Brown’s undoubted instrumental ability and the compositions demonstrate his songwriting potential. Add to those talents his mature and confident stage presence and there is every likelihood that he is a star in the making. His scheduled appearance at Glastonbury 2010 could prove to be a significant springboard.

Oli Brown’s Website
Ruf Records Website

Lionel Ross



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Pete Evans

May 17th, 2010 at 22:14
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1

It’s amazing what the impressive press and publicity people can do for Ruf Records. They can create careers for young “good image” musicians like Oli Brown and Joanne Shaw Taylor and make people believe that they are the future of the blues when in fact they are far from it. Both are competent guitarists but not outstanding and neither possesses a particularly brilliant voice but yet we are continually seeing them in the music press.

In this image conscious world, would they be where they are if they weren’t quite so photogenic… I doubt it.

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Lionel

May 17th, 2010 at 22:41
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2

I agree that Oli hasn’t got a great voice – but he is young enough for it to develop. He is a good guitarist but his main asset is his stage presence, which is very impressive for one so young. I have to admit that I like his style. Having said all of that, heavily backed promotion and publicity is certainly an incredibly powerful tool.

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Ken

May 18th, 2010 at 07:52
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3

Regarding photogenic – why would the blues world be any different to other musical genres. when was the last time you saw an ugly new pop star?

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Pete Evans

May 18th, 2010 at 08:00
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4

Precisely Ken – pop star or blues star. Would JST be appearing in all the promo for American Festivals lounging on a setee with her hair and guitar precisely arranged if she was short fat and ugly (and I’m not being sexist here – that’s the way it works)

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Ken

May 18th, 2010 at 08:49
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5

So basically – I have no chance 😉

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Pete Evans

May 18th, 2010 at 13:19
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6

If you weren’t a harp player then you might have!!!

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Ken

May 18th, 2010 at 15:31
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7

Indeed!

Did you hear about the blues harmonica player who won four million on the the National Lottery —– he just kept on gigging until all the money was gone.

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andizoo

May 18th, 2010 at 17:06
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8

It’s unfortunate that the world we live in is so obsessed by image but it seems that is so often the way. There are some fantastically talented singers and musicians out there who sadly don’t get the recognition they deserve because their image isn’t ‘commercial’ enough.
Hey Ken…I’m now the proud owner of two harps one in C and one in Bb…total respect to you because it’s a lot trickier than it looks!

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Ken

May 18th, 2010 at 17:39
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9

Hi Andi, remember to start cross harp and have the band playing in the key of G for your C harp and the band in F for your Bb.