Review: Big Mamma’s Door – Handbagged

Posted on: Monday, Mar 21, 2011


Here’s a great release from London-based five-piece, Big Mamma’s Door, fronted by the engaging and sassy vocals of Fiona McElroy, who also wrote seven of the nine tracks on offer here – ably abetted by the always-superb guitar of Mal Barclay and sparkling keyboards of ‘boogie king’ Henri Herbert – both current members of The Cadillac Kings – the fine rhythm section being Rob Pokorny (drums) and John Culleton (bass).

Together they deliver a sound rooted in the classic r&b and swing of the 50s, all beautifully performed with solos kept to the minimum, and sound like a damn good time is being had by all – kicking off with the downright saucy title cut of “Handbagged”, driven by the guitar of Mal Barclay with a sort of “Shaking All Over” inspired lick, meeting some rockabilly Johnny Cash – and of course the smoky voice of the front lady, Fiona McElroy. The rolling piano of Henri Herbert fires up “A Little Mad About You”, with a nagging, incessant riff from Mal Barclay throughout the song.

The rumba of “Give It To Me” sees some splendid drumming from Rob Pokorny which gives this a New Orleans feel, with more sparks from Henri Herbert and Mal Barclay. The pace is taken down on “You Make It Easy”, a soulful ‘torch’ song, with sultry vocal from McElroy; followed by the rocking “Another Night” . . . with Henri Herbert kicking up a storm on piano, nicely driven by the unfussy rhythm section of Pokorny and John Culleton’s bass.

The ballad of “Letting You Go” is another fine Fiona McElroy song, again in a soulful mode, with a touch of the great Etta James about it . . . quite lovely! “I Don’t Even Care” is a Fats Domino-style stomper with all the band firing on all cylinders, again driven by the virtuoso playing of Mal Barclay and Henri Herbert. The closing two tracks are covers of songs by the great Barbara Lynn, the Beaumont, Texas-born singer/guitarist . . . the rocking “You’re Gonna Be Sorry” and the equally-driving “We’ve Got A Good Thing Going” . . . both tailor-made for Fiona McElroy and the band.

A highly-recommended release, and as good as it is I would suggest this band will be best enjoyed live . . . . here’s hoping they come our way!


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