"...three musicians interweaving and complementing each other perfectly."
"Blues stripped down to its essential elements."
" ...Semi-acoustic, country blues featuring Ben Tyzack's fine songwriting and spare, clean guitar lines".
Blues Revue (US) - 2003
...There's something infectious about this bubbly little record. The more you play it, the more it begins to make its mark. What enters into the mix of this Britain-based trio is enough old fashioned back-porch honesty to bring the neighbors over for an impromptu party (and there's no denying they'd go away feeling better). It's fair to say that the SPIKEdrivers infuse their country blues with swing jazz, folk, and elements of jug-band music.
...Simple songs performed well across slide guitar, bass, drums, and vocal harmony. Based on the universal standard of applied toe-tapping, it works. The heart of the band's blues influence, if not total sound, lies in founder Ben Tyzack's stylings - he's is equally adept at slide guitar, banjo, and harmonica. (The banjo mentioned is actually a homemade resonator guitar that has a rather plunky banjo-like sound)
The disc begins strongly with Tyzack's fanciful fretwork on Robert Wilkins' perky "That's No Way To Get Along" but hits its stride with a lazy take on Robert Johnson's "Stop Breakin' Down Blues", showcasing tasty slide. "I Can't Be Satisfied" is sped up, but it's all the better for the spunky arrangement. "Kansas City Kitty", the album's best track, is an intoxicating, too-short instrumental that highlights Tyzack's significant skill on Hawaiian guitar.
All in all, Delta Roots is a habit-inducing little record that gradually sinks its teeth in and refuses to let go.
Eric Thom - Blues Revue
The Spikedrivers are one of the finest bands in the UK, their brand of blues, folk blues and classic or original music deserves to be far more recognized. Their recent Live At High Barn set has been voted as one of the very best blues albums of the year 2008.Get a chance to see them live just don't miss out, Ben, Constance and Maurice are superb musicians, they all sing and produce a very high quality product every time. Great slide guitar not to mention some very original ideas instrument wise make this band something very special indeed. This album a mix of original and new material is a really wonderful place to start, production is clean and the sound is great. If you get this one I'll guarantee you'll soon get the others. If you like blues, folk blues, and a whole lot of points in between this is a set you really will enjoy. Lovely people producing music that will last for years to come. Delta Roots says it really, rooted in the Mississippi delta but taking us on a journey through some acoustic based music that lift the spirit, and a journey you just can't fail to enjoy.
The title says it all. Delta blues, roots music. This is the way Robert Johnson would love to have done it. The creativity and chops of this trio are impressive. Great songs and excellent musicianship make this a regular on my CD rotation.
The Spikedrivers mix of delta blues with modern recording is a fabulous niche genre that they do with distinction. Listenable, enjoyable and way beyond the average.
Folk Roots (UK) - 2003
The Spikedrivers are a trio based around the vocals and guitar picking of Ben Tyzack. After various changes the line-up has settled with Constance Redgrave on bass and vocals and Maurice McElroy on drums.
Delta Roots opens and closes with the sound of crickets chriping (presumably at dusk)... scene setting or what? Robert Wilkins' That's No Way To Get Along opens the set, played with the nice easy swing that's the band's hallmark, with the three musicians interweaving and complementing each other perfectly. After a couple of perky originals penned by the leader, it's time for Ben to get mean on Robert Johnson's Stop Breakin' Down Blues. The bass and drums lock into the beat, Ben flashes his bottleneck and growls a bit but, by the end, still sounds like a thoroughly nice chap.
Constance sings well on Rhythm Guitar and her own Queen Of The One Night Stand. Maurice sings nice on J.J. Cale's Clyde and is suitably laconic on the weed song Am I High.
The Album continues to run as smooth as a rail until the returning crickets signal it's time to press the replay button.
Dave Peabody - Folk Roots
Bass Player Magazine (US) - 2002
Bassist: Constance Redgrave, Instrument: Fender Precision
Blues stripped down to its essential elements. This London (based) trio plays folk-inspired American roots music with conviction. Redgrave's spare lines have everything you need for the style: thick tone, solid note choices, and a deep pocket.
Ed Friedland - Bass Player
Blues Matters! - UK 2002
The Spikedrivers are an interesting combo. They have guitar/ bass/ drums line up but are not a power trio; they are British based but two thirds American. And they are two thirds male. They are also a swinging, toe- tapping, rootsy blues outfit. Guitarist Ben Tyzack comes originally from South Carolina and learned to play guitar for his trumpet playing father's Old New Orleans style jazz band. Bassist Constance Redgrave hails from California and, along with drummer Maurice McElroy, has provided the rhythm in Otis Grand's band in recent years.
The Spikedrivers are beginning to get coverage in the blues press, which suggests they may be among the contenders next year. They've certainly done themselves no harm with this album. On first listen it was pleasant, but repeated playings have revealed some lovely moments.
The CD is two-thirds covers to one-third home written, with Tyzack contributing four songs and Redgrave the excellent "Queen of the One Night Stand". Tyzack's "Front Porch Swing" is particularly good. They visit Robert Johnson for "Stop Breaking Down Blues", on which Tyzack plays some great rhythm and slide guitar with solid backing; Big Bill Broonzy for "Hey Hey" JJ Cale for "Clyde" and Professor Longhair for "How Long Has That Train Been Gone?". Oh, and there's the obligatory "I Can't Be Satisfied". If I were to stand on top of a pile of CDs I own which contained that song, I would be 9 ft 6! Their version is a good 'un though.
The harmonies are lovely as well, particularly on the sublime "Midnight Mademoiselle". "Rhythm Guitar", with Redgrave on lead vocals is a beautiful song too. So, a fine album, and one that hints towards an exciting live act as well. I suppose we should get them up here for a tour next year.
Chris Simmonds - Blues Matters
Blueprint (UK) - 2002
When a CD of Delta blues, roots and country music begins and ends with the soft pre-recorded sounds of the Delta you know it's going to be one of two things - good or very pretentious. Any lingering doubts are immediately dispelled as SPIKEdrivers begin to play - this is good! Producer Phill Brown has a knack of getting an American sound from a British studio and achieving a dynamic presence for the instruments that is rare in UK produced records. This is pretty much a live studio recording with very few overdubs - fortunately SPIKEdrivers respond to this and provide a jewel-like collection of songs; there are solos and they are of a high quality, as well as one short instrumental, but it's the songs that tell the story.
"Stop Breakin' Down Blues" is taken slower that the original and in a lower key, but you get the feeling that if Robert Johnson had recorded with bass and drums this is probably what it would sound like. Muddy's "I Can't Be Satisfied" doesn't work as well - it is faster, faithful to the spirit of the original, yes, but I just can't see bandleader/vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player Ben Tyzack "snapping a pistol" in anyone's face. Other covers bring in a country feel as well, allowing bassist Constance Redgrave, who provides delightful backing vocals on a number of tracks, to take lead vocals on a very bluesy Emmylou Harris number, "Rhythm Guitar", and her own "Queen Of The One Night Stand". Maurice McElroy gets his chance to be Levon Helm (well he's not Phil Collins) by singing as well as drumming on two numbers, "Clyde" by JJ Cale, and a lovely, laconically boozy "Am I High" from Ray Benson, which features Ben's converted Kazoo - the Brasso section.
Ben's originals fit perfectly into the selection. Both "Front Porch Swing" and "Soul Searchin' Blues" sound completely authentic. "Midnight Mademoiselle" sounds like one of the burlesque numbers that slide players like Bob Brozman uncover but is another Tyzack original, whilst the closing "Hard To Get.(but so hard to get rid of!) includes an infectious strain of Louis Jordanesque humour. The instrumental, "Kansas City Kitty" by Donaldson and Leslie - although Kitty sounds mighty like she's come to the Delta by the way of Hawaii in the company of Bob Brozman -is a virtuoso slide guitar piece that demonstrates that Ben can really grandstand with the best of them when he wants to!
My favourite here is "Life Is Fine", Ben's musical setting of a Langston Hughes poem. This is a deceptively simple recording which can be listened to casually or carefully, but which repays and rewards careful listening and, because of the quality of the recording, sounds clear and fresh every time.
Paul Soper - Blueprint
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