Quite why Andrew Strong has not had a successful career is beyond me. He has one of the best blues soul voices of his generation and why he hasn’t got a CV of best selling albums is one of lifes mysteries. I can’t, or more likely don’t want to, buy into the theory that it is down to his lack of easiness on the eye for want of a better description. Maybe the suggestion that he is possibly not the easiest of people to get along with is closer to the mark but again we can all think of numerous top selling artists who appear at least to be complete pains in the neck and it hasn’t stopped them getting on. Maybe it is simply that this type of music is not commercially viable enough for anyone to be bothered.
I’m sure Strong himself must have thought he was going to enjoy a long and successful recording career after the success of the film ‘The Commitments’ which is of course where he first came to prominence. Personally I have never come across anyone who disliked that particular film so find it surprising that there appears to be such an apathy towards his subsequent output which is minimal to say the least.
‘Strong’ was recorded at the Hit factory in New York in 1993 and features some venerable session muscians including Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Bobby Mayo on keyboards and Curtis Steigers on tenor sax.
There are some truly wonderful blues/soul offerings on this album. Highlights of which are ‘Same Old Me’, ‘This Bitter Earth’ and ‘Do You Know What I Mean’. There is also a decent enough version of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’. The remainder of the album is not far behind and I only have a couple of gripes with it. Firstly, that it is a little short, for some reason ‘Ain’t Nothing You Can Do’ is on there twice as a short version and a long version, effectively reducing the album to nine tracks and only about thirty five minutes in length. Secondly, a rather strange choice of cover version in the form of ‘Girls Got Rhythm’ from the AC/DC album ‘Highway To Hell’. It sits a little uncomfortably for me in amongst the bluesy soul of the rest of the album.
If you can track this album down its a bit of a forgotten hidden gem if you like this sort of thing.
© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM April 2010