Review: Groove-A-Matics – Keep It Clean

Posted on: Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014

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Groove-A-Matics – Keep It Clean

(Self-release)

Here’s a most enjoyable 10-track collection from the Gateshead-based outfit, Groove-A-Matics, of solid, pure blues – all penned by guitarist Johnny Whitehill, who for many years was Paul Lamb’s ‘left hand man’ in The King Snakes before leaving the band and heading home to his native North East.

It’s a pleasure to report that Johnny’s superb guitar playing is of the top order here and he is in fine company, with the rest of the band comprising Mick Cantwell (vocals, saxophone and harmonica), John Morgan (bass) and Barry Race (drums), with some bass duties on the album handled by Barry (Coochee) Winlow.

The opening “Way Of The World” is an uptempo and rousing number, highlighting Cantwell’s great voice – which I found reminiscent of Chris Rea at times – and driving saxophone playing, with tasteful solo from Whitehill; it’s followed by the rumba of “Working Class Man”, with Cantwell showing he is no slouch on harmonica either. The Chicago blues flavoured “Who’s Been Sleeping” again sees Mick Cantwell on harmonica, with Whitehill’s stabbing guitar riff and the rhythm section on this track, of Winlow and Race pushing it along.

Johnny Whitehill’s affectionate nod to a blues guitar hero, Peter Green on “Mr. Green” is a highlight, with some searing and quite beautiful playing and soulful vocal from Cantwell. “Back Home” is a nice country-edged rockabilly tune and the band dig into some Guitar Slim grooves on “Feels So Good”. The band hit a rumba feel again on “Some More”, a song with a sweet N’Awlins feel to it, and more guitar fireworks from Mr. Whitehill!

To sum up, a most recommended release, which, I would suggest . . . will be even better served live!

GRAHAME RHODES

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