Review: The Russ Tippins Electric Band – Combustion

Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013


The Russ Tippins Electric Band – Combustion

(Arty Music: ARTY07)

The powerful North East trio, led by guitarist, singer and writer Russ Tippins first came to my attention with their 2011 release, “Electrickery”, and also a fine local gig . . . two years on the follow-up, “Combustion”, is with us – 11 tracks of powerful rock, blues and more . . . all penned by the band, with just one cover, and recorded on home ‘turf’ in Newcastle.

Apart from Russ Tippins on vocals and guitar, the band comprise of Ian Halford (drums) and John Dawson (bass) . . . a mighty fine rhythm section indeed . . . with a few guest musicians and vocalists, more of whom later. The album is dominated by Tippins fluid guitar playing and his vocals, and together the trio are definitely a band on the rise!

The music roars into life with the title cut, “Combustion”, with a fleet-fingered opening salvo from Tippins and the driving rhythm section on this melodic rocker, with a nice hook and some blistering soloing; the following “Smoke House” again rides on a tough riff and thumping bassline from John Dawson; the driving, swinging “Too Cool To Sweat” again shows off Russ Tippins glorious guitar work, this time in a more bluesy and jazzy vein.

The strutting rocker “Big Bad Bella” is another standout, on this cautionary tale of ‘the toughest girl in town’, who is not to be messed with! The trio head into almost ‘spaghetti western’ territory on the breakneck “Poncho” as Tippins sings the tale of trouble ‘on the border’ . . . with the rhythm section of Ian Halford and John Dawson driving it along while Tippins adds more fine guitar.

The album’s masterpiece is the slow blues of “Tear Down The Sky”, with a stunning soulful vocal from American singer J Edwards, who pours his soul out here, enhanced by some sweet guitar; the pace is taken up again on the driving “After You”, with another mood swing on the melodic “Better Times Coming”, which has a nice radio-friendly feel to it, and has Tom Atkinson guesting on guitar.

The stomping ‘country-fied’ rocker “Mamma Don’t Allow” – the sole cover here – has Tippins in an Albert Lee picking mode with guest vocal from Yorkshire’s own, Jenna Hooson . . . . great fun, and nice saxophone solo from Steve Clifford, and guitar solo from Michael McCrystal.

The crunching “Mr Done It All” rocks along nicely, and this most enjoyable release ends in a mellow-ish mood with the funky “Misty Blue”, again with sterling contributions from the rhythm section . . . the song again showing off Russ Tippins great guitar playing, and more fiery saxophone from Steve Clifford.

The band gig mainly in their native North East, but have made inroads into the festival scene . . . and are highly recommended to catch live if you can.


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