Mike Andersen – Devil is Back (Cable Car CCR 0311-50)

Mike Andersen made his musical entrance in 2002 with a disc entitled ‘My Love for the Blues’.  In the succeeding fifteen years his love for the Blues has been matched by a love for Soulful vocals too.  It’s made expectations at Andersen’s live shows problematic at times perhaps, but with his new release ‘Devil is Back’  and a great duet with Joss Stone, Andersen should find acceptance on a much wider audience level.

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Change My Game -Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado (RUF 1240)

This is a CD I fed into my player with some trepidation.  Thorbjørn Risager’s previous studio release ‘Too Many Roads’  was my favourite release of 2014.  It was a special moment indeed to be present at Bonn Harmonie and see the band receive a prestigious PdSK Award  for the disc, but of course it can only have racked up the expectations for it’s successor.      The following live release (again shot at Bonn Harmonie) suggested that either the band were taking their time getting a strong new set together – or they were out of ideas.  I’m very pleased (and relieved) to say it was very definitely a case of the former.  ‘Change my Game’  could indeed even rightfully be called ‘Up my Game’ as TR and his very capable band of Black Tornados deliver everything we loved about ‘Too Many Roads’ and a whole lot more besides.

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King King Live – Hatman 2045


It was the moment when a band came of age.  A sound was pinned firmly down like a butterfly for all eternity.  There will never be another Thin Lizzy concert with Phil Lynott or ACDC show with Bon Scott, but we still feel the visceral power that made them great band’s through the live releases they put out.  It doesn’t matter if the tracks were almost re-recorded track by track after the show, what matters is that I can put on ‘Live & Dangerous’ and hear exactly what I heard at Portsmouth Guildhall in 1978.  I can tell you how amazing a Rory Gallagher show was, but without ‘Irish Tour 74’ you wouldn’t get at half the emotion – and yes, those Rockpalast shows are great, but immortality is in the vinyl grooves my friend.  In this age of silver discs with ‘perfect’ sound reproduction, is there still a place for rough ‘n’ ready live Rock?  Step up to the mark King King and their first ever live offering.

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Laurence Jones – Take Me High (RUF )


LJ1Fifty years on from the famous ‘Beano’ album featuring Eric Clapton with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Producer Mike Vernon still gets a tingle of excitement when he hears someone bringing something special to the Blues.  In 2010 a young Brit named Oli Brown excited Vernon enough to lure him out of retirement – in 2016 another young Brit has caught the great man’s attention.  Laurence Jones is the young man in question and ‘Take Me High’ could almost have been what Jones said to lure Vernon back into the studio.    the result is one of the best guitar sounds I’ve heard on a disc for years and very possibly the start of something very big indeed.

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Tommy Schneller Band – Backbeat (Timezone TZ1036)


Osnabrück Jazz Saxophonist Tommy Schneller came to my attention via Henrik Freischlader’s Cable Car Records in 2011.  Knowing that Henrik cares about the music at least, if not more than, the money (at the time his roster was just Schneller and Layla Zoe) I knew Schneller would be worth a listen and both  2011’s ‘Smiling for a reason’ and 2014’s ‘Cream of the Crop’ were super Jazz/Funk CD’s that deserved a much bigger public than they got.  With the new release ‘Backbeat’ Schneller has again come up with a disc to get your feet tapping and your hips swaying – and maybe, just maybe, will get the sales he so richly deserves.

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Connie Lush Band – Renaissance (Plastic Head Distr.)

Just when I thought all the ‘best kept secrets’ in British Blues were out, this landed in the post. It’s had some stiff competition for time in my CD player recently with Tedeschi Trucks, Gary Clarke Junior and the new Layla Zoe all competing for space and time but I keep coming back to Connie Lush.  Her new release Renaissance really is THAT good.

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Stevie Nimmo – Sky won’t fall (Manhaton Records)


It’s funny how the values you ascribe to music change over time.  Back in the 70’s when I was listening to Thin   Lizzy and Rory Gallagher I never considered the word ‘integrity’ for example, even though it was really  all over the music I was hearing and loving.  Jump forward almost 40 years and here I am listening to Stevie Nimmo’s second release ‘Sky won’t   fall’ and the ‘I’ word is a key element to my listening pleasure.  Right from the opening crackle of amp feedback this disc says simply and clearly “I am a musician and I would be if I had to sleep on the street because no one bought my records”

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Ina Forsman – RUF Records (RUF 1223)

CaptureLooking for yet another up and coming singer to check out?  I agree, there’s only so much time and money available in this busy and expensive world.  But if you DO have a space in your day and are looking for a new voice in the Soul/Blues/Jazz mould I suggest giving the debut CD by Finnish bombeshell Ina Forsman a spin.

Imagine Beth Hart and Amy Winehouse  meeting Nina Simone and they all have a ball…

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