Review: Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges – Born To Be Blue

Posted on: Sunday, Jun 3, 2012

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Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges – Born To Be Blue

(Manhaton Records: HATMAN 2029)

American guitarist, singer and writer Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges  first came to Europe in 1996, and he’s been a popular and pretty permanant addition to the blues scene here ever since, as well as having success at home, and here is a welcome re-release for his first album, “Born To Be Blue”, which was produced by Mike Vernon and appeared on the UK label, Blueside. He now has six albums to his name – the rest being on the Armadillo label.

Bridges spent time as a child in New Orleans, then later in San Antonio and Houston, Texas. With a guitar-playing father, Hideaway Slim – who became a preacher, and his mother coming from the Bullock family – from where one Annie Mae Bullock, better known as Tina Turner – came. With this family background he was perhaps destined to be both a fine guitarist and singer.

After spending time as part of Big Joe Turner’s Memphis Blues Caravan he eventually formed his own band, which led in turn to him coming to the attention of Blueside and this album. The 12 tracks on “Born To Be Blue” veer towards the soul side of blues, with gospel flavours and comprise all Bridges originals, bar two Sam Cooke songs. He’s accompanied by a fine group of musicians: Peter Zivkovic (piano), Robin Clayton (bass), Alan Savage (drums), Mike Vernon (percussion), James Hallawell (organ/’strings’) and George Chandler (vocals).

The opening “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” perfectly captures the feel of the album, Bridges warm and soulful voice to the fore with the sympathetic band the perfect foil; the following “Little Boy Blue” moves into a more funky territory with some nice guitar leads; the pace taken down again for the soulful ballad “Tears Of A Fool”. His guitar roars on the uptempo blues shuffle of the title cut, “Born To Be Blue” . . . very much in that classic BB King groove, with a name check for the man himself and his guitar, “Lucille”, as well as many other blues legends . . . as Bridges tells us why he was destined to be a bluesman.

The slow blues of “Aching Heart” features more telling guitar work, and embellishment from the organ of James Hallawell, and another thoroughly convincing vocal from Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges. The joyous, gospelly take on Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” is a standout as his voice rings out pure and true. Peter Zivkovic’s piano features on the rolling “(My Only Reason For Working) Ain’t No Reason No More”, with a distinctly Texas flavour, as he recalls his time in the ‘Lone Star’ state.

The blues shuffle of “Good Thang” illustrates Bridges fluent and clean guitar playing, with another strong vocal; however, perhaps the best is saved for last, as the album ends with a glorious version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”, and often-recorded classic and done justice to here as Bridges voice soars with a reverential ‘nod’ to one of his musical influences and heroes.


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