Review: Eddie Martin With His Big Blues Band – Looking Foward Looking Back

Posted on: Monday, Sep 24, 2012

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Eddie Martin With His Big Blues Band – Looking Foward Looking Back

(Blueblood Records: BLUEBLOOD 014)

Bristolian Eddie Martin has long been one of the most popular and respected musicians on the British blues scene – he’s an all-round bluesman, being  a highly skilled acoustic performer and also equally at home fronting an electric trio or a big band, as here on “Looking Forward Looking Back” – a fine album of his own songs and one co-write, that he dedicates to legendary electric bluesmen and band leaders T-Bone Walker, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson and Elmore James.

He moved the whole band into a Bristol dance hall, Patchway Labour Club, to record live to tape on vintage and also state of the art equipment and the result is a joy from start to finish! Martin himself contributes lead vocals, guitar, piano and harmonica; with the rest of the band being John Paul Gard (organ and bass pedals), Richard Laws (drums) and the crack Little Big Horns featuring Patsy Gamble (baritone and tenor saxophone), Steve Trigg (trumpet), Andy Gilliams (trombone) and Julie Kimber (tenor saxophone) . . . with also the legendary Pee Wee Ellis contributing a co-write and several tenor saxophone solos.

A lot of the songs have definite ‘nods’ to some of the greats that the album is dedicated too but with Martin’s own fine musicianship all over them. The opening “Frog In The Long Grass” positively tears out of the speakers with some incisive guitar from Martin and the punchy horn section ‘right on the money’; the following “Sorry For The Rain” rides on a fierce Elmore James slide riff with the horn section swinging in fine style. “Wannabe Me” is a showcase for Eddie Martin’s lovely guitar work as he lays on the T-Bone Walker licks aplenty with a smooth vocal performance . . . and really high calibre organ playing here from John Paul Gard.

The funky “Let It Slide” is another gem here, with Gard again prominent along with more classy guitar; Martin’s chromatic harmonica is top-notch on the wry “Supermodel”, showing he’s equally as proficient on that instrument along with his searing guitar playing. The cool, soulful title track, “Looking Forward Looking Back” is a great tune with top performances all round and again some sparkling guitar work. The swinging blues of “Zombie Attack” is a hoot, with drummer Richard Laws laying down a great groove along with John Paul Gard, embellished by Martin’s vocal and soloing.

Elsewhere “Headspace” is another funky slide-driven number – recalling the classic “Must Have Done Somebody Wrong” – with more wry humour on the rocking “She’s A He”, with Eddie Martin on excellent piano; the co-write with Pee Wee Ellis is a heavy duty funk instrumental workout, punctuated by a tough guitar riff and Ellis’s rasping saxophone solos. The closing “Second Chance Romance” is again a ‘tip of the hat’ to Elmore James – fierce slide guitar and the punchy horns on top . . . a fine end indeed to one of the best British releases this year . . . which comes highly recommended.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.eddiemartin.com

www.bluebloodrecords.com

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