American Blues made in Italy? The Morblus website lays their musical cards purely and simply on the table. The same can be said for their latest CD on Jazzhouse Records ‘Green Side’. It’s their first studio offering since 2006 and it’s a no frills but plenty of thrills affair for lovers of Blues with a jazz edge. How does Blues from Verona (birthplace of guitarist and bandleader Roberto Morbioli) match up then? Pretty well if ‘Green Side’ is any indication.
The disc Kicks off with ‘Emotional Mess’, a classic Blues shuffle with a hint of Jazz that leaves me waiting for the saxophone. It doesn’t come, but a chunky little guitar/Hammond interplay more than compensates. Excellent vocal style too. These guys are good – if they can just keep it up over a whole disc…
Still shuffling Blues style, this time ‘Down in Memphis’ and it’s got me starting to feel like I’m walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale. Love that swirling Hammond sound. The tempo ups with ‘Blow Me Up’ and some sprightly rhythm from Diego Pozzan. The Hammond kicks in again and it’s great although I‘d love to hear this with a harp blowing full speed ahead. A sure fire live hit with a built in audience participation chorus.
With the title track ‘Green Side’ we’re on a laid back tempo that must be inspired by Mr Santana with strong nods to : ‘More than I’ve ever loved before’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sunny’. ‘I’m in the Blues’ seems a bit ponderous after the last up-tempo efforts but a super vocal, that if I heard it on the radio I would swear was coming from Joe Cocker. ‘Hard to Take’ is a typical blues song about the girl leaving the man but the quality of musicianship raises it up above the average. Our ‘Midnight Ride’ actually takes us down to Chicago where, if “On the radio, Muddy Waters can‘t be satisfied”, on the CD player WE can, especially with the good-time piano and guest vocals of Gregory Barrett from Tommy Schneller’s excellent band.
Ballad time with ‘Crawfish Pie’ – or not? It quickly gains a swirling Hammond rhythm. ‘Blues on Top’ should be re-titled ‘Blues on TAP’ since it quickly has toes moving to it’s lush beat. Lovely Hammond work on here once again by Daniele Scala.
‘Six Strings (Do my talking for me)’ is pretty self explanatory except that if that’s the case then why is he singing? There is definitely a Hendrix riff in there but it’s got enough energy of it’s own to, and if the solo isn’t Jimi it is a good one all the same. ‘When I Miss it’ is a bit of a letdown. Not that it’s a bad song or badly sung, but it’s just the standard Blues ballad sound passed down from Peter Green to Gary Moore, to Henrik Freischlader…
Thank goodness for some fuzzy guitar work on ‘Under The Gun’ to kickstart the tempo again. I’d like to hear more uptempo guitar and less Hammond on this one if I’m honest. A bit of ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ would be more than welcome. ‘I Believe to my Soul’ is unsurprisingly into Soul territory and well put together but not what the band do best by any means. A nice (albeit late in the disc) change of style, before ‘Out on the Road’ takes us back to the Blues, and these guys have been listening to Eric Bibb lately for sure – close my eyes and there’s Mr Bibb with Bookers old guitar.
If you’re looking for innovative cutting edge Rockblues then this isn’t it – but if you’re ‘just’ looking for a good blues album played the way it’s played best, and especially if you’re a Hammond fan, then this should certainly be in your checkout basket.