Well a what a surprise this was. I thought it would be good having already heard the live offering from a few years before but honestly never expected it to be as good as this. Right from the very first note of Jon Lord’s swirling hammond organ you get top quality blues played by some highly experienced musicians at the top of their game.
Opening track ‘The Blues Just Got Sadder’ is a perfect start with the swirling Lord organ leading into a peice of solid blues rock. My only complaint is that it is too short. The second cut ‘Gotta Find Me Some Fire’ is almost Deep Purple meets Thunder in a bluesy kind of way and features a great guitar solo from Tim Gaze who also delivers another excellent vocal. (I am now more than a little concerned as to why I have never heard of him before by the way).
‘Twisted System’ sees the first guest vocalist in the shape of Jeff Duff who does not sound unlike David Clayton-Thomas. This and the fact that the song is very reminiscent of ‘Spinning Wheel’ gives it a real ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ feel. But nonetheless it’s a cracking track. Jon Lord’s old Deep Purple cohort Ian Gillan takes the mike for the next track ‘Over and Over’. This would not have been out of place on one of the more recent Deep Purple albums and Gillan delivers one of his trademark vocals. The track veers between soft acoustic and hard hitting rock with a great explosive guitar before drifting back into a soft piano ending. A song which would surely have been a classic had it been recorded by Purple in their heyday. In fact the early Purple sound is all over this album just with a little more hint of the blues. ‘Let It Go’ sees Tim Gaze, who does not sound unlike Elmer Gantry (Velvet Opera/Stretch etc) at times, return to the mike and deliver another great vocal over a riff not unlike Purple’s early instrumental classic ‘Wring That Neck(Hard Road). The fourth vocalist on the album Jimmy Barnes takes his first song next on the cover of The Rolling Stones ‘Heart of Stone’. More great organ and guitar interplay and a class vocal make this another great track. Gillan is up again next for ‘If This Ain’t The Blues’ and although this is a more standard blues type song, with that Lord organ in the background it is hard not to think of Deep Purple.
The title track is up next and is a nice foot tapping instrumental with the obligatory organ and guitar solos and more great interplay between the soloists. This is as good a time as any to extole the virtues of bass player Bob Daisley, a figure well known to rock fans from his time with Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne etc and drummer Rob Grosser who provide a good solid rhythm section throughout. ‘Dead Presidents’ follows and is a great peice of swingtime blues with a clever lyric and more swirling Lord organ. It is a song I had not previously heard but was co-written by Willie Dixon so there are probably numerous other versions about. Jimmy Barnes is back for the next track a hard hitting version of the Muddy Waters classic ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. It may have been a predictable choice of cover but is, you have to admit, certainly appropriate and the performance is good if hardly original. ‘Bottle O’Wine has a really great groove to it and the vocal is delivered by Jeff Duff again in his David Clayton-Thomas Blood Sweat & Tears style. It really is uncanny how similar they sound. The best track on the album though is the penultimate one, the Don Nix penned ‘Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven’. It is just perfect blues with a great vocal, great guitar, meaningful lyrics that are easy to identify with …… “everybody wants the truth but everybody wants to tell a lie” …….. “everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”…. and of course that classic Lord organ. The final track is actually the weakest on the album but is still pretty good without living up to the quality of earlier tracks. Maybe it suffers from following ‘Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven’ which for me would have been a better closer.
To summarise then this is a great blues album, it’s a great blues rock album and it is probably the best rock style organ playing Jon Lord has come up with since ‘Burn’. Seriously, it is that good. If you are a fan of blues rock and more specifically pre 1975 Deep Purple you simply cannot afford not to hear this album.
© Martin Leedham. Originally published on RYM January 2010