RnR – Sept 2019
Led by London-born, South Carolina-raised, singer and guitarist Ben Tyzack and with the long standing support of Constance Redgrave on bass and Maurice McElroy on drums, doyens of the UK blues scene Spikedrivers have in Across The Water, their seventh studio album.
Bens guitar work lurches from Piedmont or Mississippi blues picking to Jimmy Page or Peter Green-flavoured blues-rock and many points in between, whilst he handles the bulk of the vocals, though Maurice two leads (including What Its All About aka The Hockey-Cockey - which kind of works) and Constance has a brace; she is almost a cappella on her own intense Warrior Song.
The band excels with its take on blues and roots music, from the boogie rhythm of the opening Across The Water, the moody One Careful Owner, and the sleaze of Maurice’s Soho Blues to the individual, relaxed cover of George Gershwins Summertime, whilst the closing Down In The River To Pray is a masterpiece of delivery, engineering and production, my only critisizm being that such a beautiful performance is much too short.
Reviewer: Norman Darwin
The Musician – Autumn 2019
Vocalists Ben Tyzack and Constance Redgrave have an easy chemistry that makes for a captivating listen, whether they are singing about lazy drivers, good time gals, or delivering spellbinding spirituals
Tenth album time for the UK veterans who’ve been around, in one form or another, since the early 1990s; and, if you think they sound surprisingly American for a British blues trio, there’s a reason for that.
Bassist Constance Redgrave hails from Los Angeles, guitarist Ben Tyzack grew up in Iowa City and Atlanta, the son of a Dixieland trumpeter… yeah, that’ll do it. And when you listen to the moody slow-burner “One Careful Owner,” or the slinky rewrite of the “Hokey Cokey,” “What’s It All About,” it’s done.
This is pure, unpretentious, straightforward country blues, shot through with a mean sense of humor (“just another song about a lonesome train” they sing in the middle of another song about a lonesome train), and a regular hoedown full of singalongs.
For example. If you can’t imagine a barnful of kids roaring joyfully along with “It’s All About You… and Your Big Fat Ass,” then you have no soul. And you probably drive a car that’s way too big for your needs.
Try “Soho Blues” which feels like Dr John playing the smokiest speakeasy in town, while trying to lure the audience into a seedy London strip club. Or the cover of “Summertime,” that sounds like it was hacked out on the hottest, stillest, most humid day of the year. Play it outside while the cicadas are singing. It’s the only sound missing from the record.
In fact, in a way, the whole album feels like that. Dark and soulful, and deliberately lazy, there’s a slide guitar that howls like a distant siren, harmonies that feel like eerie echoes, and more passing ghosts than you can shake a swampsnake at. …across the water is nighttime behind the neon light that’s the only illumination for miles, a shack in the middle of nowhere, and a band that looks like it really wants to give you the time of your life. Now you have to decide what you’ll give them in return.
Reviewer: Dave Thompson
I came across the Spikedrivers 2005 album Ain’t It Real by chance a couple of years ago and at the time I found their Blues influence music refreshing and very entertaining; so when their latest release dropped on my doormat for reviewing I eagerly awaited the first play to ascertain whether the band style had changed in the ensuing years.
I’m encouraged to validate that the Spikedrivers still deliver an eclectic mix of music that focuses on traditional Blues although the band do tip their toes into some subtle Folk and Jazz influences. The three piece band have been together for almost two decades and this familiarisation shows in the relaxed but slick way they perform together.
The band is fronted by guitarist Ben Tyzack who handles the majority of vocals, the bass is covered by Constance Redgrave with Maurice McElroy completing the rhythm section the drums. The track that showcases the band to perfection is the six minute All About A Lonesome Train that incorporates some deep chugging rhythm with Ben providing some juicy slide guitar playing. The only cover on the album is the Gershwin favourite Summertime. The band have included it as it is a crowd favourite. I found their arrangement fascinating as it maintains the body of the original work but the band have put their own twist on it with some subtle echo effect guitar work.
There are no additional musicians used on the album. The three band members cover all the instrumentation and share the vocals depending on the song requirement. Constance puts in an eerie vocal on the Warrior Song which is very ecclesiastical in its deliver and sends a shiver down your spine. This album is a treat for any discerning Blues fan. It is full of strong songs and superb musicianship
Reviewer: Adrian Blacklee
Emsworth Blues Club
The Spikedrivers have travelled far and wide over the years to spread their musical message and with the new Spikedrivers CD " Across the Water" just released, they continue to show just how unique they are to the music scene in the UK.
The recipe for this new bunch of tunes is to distill all of the elements of the previous Spikedrivers albums. The resulting distillation process with some assistance from the fine mixing engineer Phil Brown (check him out ) has produced a heady mix of great songs.
Some fine musical performances on the CD from Ben, Constance and Maurice that include the excellent "It's All About You" and "Soho Blues", but these tunes may struggle to get played on the airwaves of the UK !.
If you get a chance to catch the Spikedrivers in concert, buy some tickets, tell your friends ,enjoy the evening, Constance will be happy to sell you some CDs at the end of the gig.
Reviewer: Robin Vick
Blues In Britain
One of Britain’s most popular bands return with a new and very original album. Welcome to the newest release by Ben Tyzack, Constance Redgrave and Maurice McElroy, collectively known as The Spikedrivers, a dozen songs, loads of atmosphere, and even an audience joining them for a chorus of “daisy daisy, give me your answer do.” But be assured it’s not a whole track but a neat little introduction to a new song called ‘Ride With Me’.
The album is mainly originals but a couple of covers are given a beautiful makeover. Ben gives us some stunning guitar on George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, and later to close the album Constance leads the others in a song that became famous through the film ‘O Brother Where Art Though’, named here ‘Down In The River’. You may know it better as ‘Down To The River To Pray’. Around these two are a collection of some very fine songs indeed, from the water washing on the beach as the title track opens and Ben’s voice brings the song to life. Then there’s the slower atmospheric guitar on ‘We Wonder Why’ “everybody gets the blues”. Ben’s guitar is pure blues, a masterful performance.
Train station sounds are included at the start of ‘All About A Lonesome Train’, a guitar shuffle, the band here so tight, the rhythm section Constance on bass and Maurice on percussion an object lesson in keeping the flow going without overtaking the song, giving Ben’s guitar a voice all on its own. Things change a little with Maurice getting his chance to sing an arena filling song. He’s sung about chickens, Clyde and his bass, well this time it’s a jaunty little take on dancing the Hokey Cokey, with a Caribbean style rhythm which will certainly help the non-dances get up, ‘Do the Hokey Cokey, I’ll show you how’. This will be a great live show song. Maurice also takes us to the area of London known as Soho in ‘Soho Blues’, the clubs, the girls and the sleazy late night scene, a dirty little blues.
In ‘Warrior Song’ Constance’s vocals are quite amazing, the song almost hymn like. Ben’s tongue in cheek song ‘It’s All About You’ opens with a very full rock n roll guitar, an easy shuffle as he sings about those who take their kids by car to school ‘when it’s just down the road’. The rest of the band join in the chorus and it’s a song that will draw you in again and again. Modern day living blues, nice one Ben!
This is an album full of good things, those who know the band will be thrilled with this one. The Spikedrivers are back with an album that has every element of the blues we know them for but much more indeed. Could be on the best album you’ll hear this year.
Reviewer: Pete Clack
Response from our friends and family :- )
"a fabulous and often funny new CD from my favourite band -
It’s up to the general great standard of all Spikedrivers work,
“I have just had the honour and joy of reviewing
On this weeks show we are having two albums of the week (I'm just being greedy). We have in the UK corner #TheSpikedrivers (Maurice McElroy, Ben Tyzack & Constance Redgrave) with their album Across The Water and #JimmieVaughan with his fantastic new album Please Come Home.
Classic Spikedrivers meets Country Joe and the Fish
It is a fantastic piece of work. The grooves are amazing!! I love the care and real artistry that has gone in the making of this. 'Proper Job' as my gran would say.
This is a beautiful thing!
This has to be the best yet. Great feels and sounds and the mixes are spot on. You can hear everything but there is space as well. Love the Commander Cody western swing songs and that one when Constance sings the solo with overdubbed voices is really spiritual. It's now in the car CD so I can listen over and over.
I love, love it; your talents, gifts and love come through beautifully clear and your harmonies..... just bliss to my ears. I will enjoy many hours of listening and sharing this latest addition of your work.
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