Review: Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This

Posted on: Thursday, Mar 5, 2015

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Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This
(Reference Recordings: RR-135)

The many fans of Doug MacLeod will be familiar with the phrase that forms the title of this, his latest album. When introducing a song, the multi award-winning singer/songwriter will often say, “And this song is going to go exactly like this.” The statement is in deliberate contrast to the many singers, who declare that a song “goes something like this”, which MacLeod interprets as giving their audiences short shrift and something less that they might have given at other performances. It is, of course, said somewhat tongue in cheek but it is also symptomatic of the artiste’s commitment to delivering the goods whenever he performs.

The eleven tracks of the album are all written by Doug MacLeod, who is backed by Mike Thompson on piano, Jimi Bott on drums, percussion and backing vocals and Denny Croy on bass and backing vocals. The tracks also reflect a number of MacLeod’s musical influences, including Tony Joe White, John Lee Hooker, Duke Ellington and the country blues style of Ernest Banks

The opening track, “Rock It Till The Cows Come Home” is, as its title suggest, a bouncing rock and roll number, complete with appropriately tinkling piano, and is a tribute to Louis Jordan. “Too Many Misses For Me” with its “Walkin’ The Dog” rhythmic structure, features a clever play on words and is followed by the splendidly haunting slow blues, “Find Your Right Mind”. “Ain’t It Rough?” provides a humorous explanation of some of the difficulties facing a performer before “Vanetta” raises the tempo in the form of an upbeat boogie.

“Serious Doin’ Woman” describes the temptations that can confront a musician on the road and is embellished by some lovely guitar work while the instrumental, “Ridge Runner” races along, brilliantly driven by the excellent rhythm section. “New Morning Road” is a down home blues, which showcases MacLeod’s wonderfully rich vocal quality at its impressive best in advance of the superb, foot-tapping shuffle, ”Raylene”.

“Heaven’s The Only Place”, a slow and bluesy, philosophical ballad, and the jazz-flavoured “You Got It Good (And That Ain’t Bad)”, which features another fine contribution on piano from Mike Thompson, complete this attractively varied compilation from one of the very best acoustic blues exponents in the world. It is lovely stuff and strongly recommended.


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