Review: The Proof – 100% The Proof

Posted on: Thursday, Mar 6, 2014

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The Proof – 100% The Proof

(Note Music: NCD1026)

Here’s a most enjoyable release from a group of seasoned professionals with an impressive CV between them – The Proof were formed in late 2012 by long-time musical allies Paul Cox and ex-Peter Green Splinter Group member, Roger Cotton. Here the superb soulful vocals of Cox and Cotton’s keyboards and guitar are joined by guitarist Mike Summerland; and the vastly experienced rhythm section of Nigel Hardy (bass) and Pete Stroud (drums) – who between them boast stints with Peter Green, Robert Palmer, Phil Guy and more.

Guesting on two tracks is the great Mickey Moody, with more assistance on guitar from Snowy White and Charlie Fabert on one track each, with backing vocals from Hanna White and Roger Cotton. The 11-track album, “100% The Proof” is almost equally split with original compositions and some choice covers, well suited to the fine vocals of Cox and the bands musical prowess.

They are down to business on a title track of sorts, “I Got The Proof”, a slide-driven blues co-penned by Paul Cox and John Slaughter, with fine work from Mike Summerland on guitar; next up they take on the recently-late Chuck Willis’s “Feel So Bad”, kicked off by Nigel Hardy’s nagging bassline and nice contributions from all, from Cotton’s riveting piano to Peter Stroud’s driving drums. The standout for me is the lengthy slow blues medley of “Cold Cold Feeling / “Since I’ve Been Loving You” – perfectly suited to Paul Cox’s brilliant voice, which lays on the heartache here, with more tasteful guitar from Mike Summerland, whose playing is a joy throughout.

Mickey Moody lays down some snarling leads on Roger Cotton’s funky “Until The Wells Run Dry”, and also contributes to the timeless classic that is Don Nix’s “Same Old Blues” – perfected by Freddie King – and here admirably covered by the band, again with exemplary singing from Cox and lovely playing from all the band. The pace is taken up on Delbert McClinton’s Texas roadhouse rocker “Why Me”, with blistering guitar from Charlie Fabert.

Another gem here is the cover of Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” – another song that fits the Paul Cox voice like a glove; ex-Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd guitarist Snowy White delivers some fine licks on his co-penned “Are You Made Of Gold”, written with Cox, that rides on a nice funky groove, and also features backing vocals from Hanna White and Roger Cotton. This fine release ends with the soul classic “Some Kind Of Wonderful”, here performed with some crunching guitar from Mike Summerland.

One of the best British blues albums of the year, and well worth a listen – highly recommended!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.note-music.co.uk

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