Review: Simon McBride – Nine Lives
Posted on: Friday, Apr 6, 2012
(nugene records NUG1201)
Simon McBride is a singer/guitarist/songwriter from Belfast. His high standing is underlined by the calibre of artiste that he has supported in recent years: Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani and Derek Trucks. Having cut his teeth from the age of sixteen with metal band Sweet Savage, he toured for six years with Andrew Strong of The Commitments before setting out on his solo career.
On the first nine tracks of this album, which were variously recorded live at Robin 2, Bilston, The Stereo, Glasgow and The Barfly, London, McBride is backed by Paul Hamilton on drums and Carl Harvey on bass. The final four acoustic tracks were recorded at The Big Room, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.
The album opens with the slow and bluesy “Down To The Wire”, which features some brilliant, Gary Moore-like guitar work. The fast-moving, meaty foot-tapper “Take My Hand” drifts into the significantly slower but equally substantial “Hell Waters Rising” on a composite second track before the pace is energetically cranked up again on “Fire Me Up”. “Rich Man Falling” has a deceptively slow start but soon re-establishes the previous momentum, which is maintained by “Fat Pockets”, another gutsy rocker.
“Down To The River” and “Change” both deliver a driving beat, the latter with a generous helping of wah-wah. There follows a cracking rendition of Hendrix’s “Power Of Soul”, which owes much to the terrific underpinning provided by the excellent rhythm section. “Devils Road” is played at a blistering pace, which borders on manic rockabilly, to complete the trio-based section of the album.
The final four tracks, which comprise acoustic versions of three of the previous tracks (“Down To The River”, “Rich Man Falling” and “Devils Road”) and “Coming Home”, fully demonstrate McBride’s mastery of acoustic guitar mode. Overall, the album showcases his versatility, his powerful, gruff vocals and his phenomenal dexterity and confirms his status as a force to be reckoned with in the pantheon of blues-rock exponents.
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