"...excellent new album!".
"...The Spikedrivers have the unique ability to conjure a presence, a sense of place,
"...The atmosphere the band is able to create around its music is nothing
Blues Revue (US) - Dec 04/Jan 05
There's something about the Spikedrivers that keeps you wanting more. Even better, the more you hear Bluetrash, the more you find to listen to. The remarkable thing is its simplicity: three simpatico musicians playing acoustic instruments. Yet there's nothing simplistic about their arrangements, and the atmosphere the band is able to create around its music is nothing less than remarkable.
The band (whose members hail from America and Northern Ireland) mines Delta blues with near-religious respect for the genre. Their sound is built around Ben Tyzack's acoustic guitar, vocals, and harmonica, while Constance Redgrave and Maurice McElroy trade off lead and support vocals, doing double duty as rhythm players (bass and drums, respectively). All songs are originals and though many plumb the sacrosanct depths of hardcore country blues, the lyrical content maintains a toehold on modern themes. Key tracks include the title cut, wherein Tyzack conveys the pain of having "the blues so bad" as Redgrave accompanies on washboard and McElroy adds depth through a Nigerian Udu drum. Tyzack delivers a slickly seductive guitar tone on "Oklahoma Stardust Blues" as though emulating the lonesome cry of a pedal steel; you can hear Ry Cooder cry during the inspired intro and leads. The lazy shuffle "Garbage Man Blues" marries old sounds to modern lyrics: "Everybody needs me/But nobody loves me."
Redgrave's "Grampa Was a Moonshiner" shows a different side of the band as Redgrave pins the history of her dysfunctional white-trash family against a swampy, ghostlike canvas. Comic relief comes in the form of McElroy's relaxed vocals on "Junk Mail Blues" and "Where Did the Money Go," reminding us that blues revolves around mirth as well as darkness and depression. There are recurrent themes of trains, tractors, and trash across the record that, despite its moody explorations, remains soothing and buoyant. The transition from the sorrowful "Train Done Gone" to the jubilant "Massey Ferguson Blues" is a trip worth taking, as Tyzack's hard-picking, sinuous baritone guitar and growling vocals give Fat Possum's juke-joint sound a run for its money. "Burning Through Time" recalls the fluid mysticism of early Peter Green. Before long, you find yourself craving more from this eclectic trio.
Eric Thom - Blues Revue
OK I've reviewed all of The Spikedrivers albums for Amazon, no excuses; they are quite simply a wonderful and extremely gifted band. I saw them live and bought this album on the strength of one song, Layin’ Down Lincolns which they had played during their set. This just opened up to a quite wonderful album. There is not a weak track on it, a mix of styles covering a whole range of blues and folk blues styles, but what really stands out is the brilliance of them as musicians of the very highest order, clearly enjoying every moment they are playing and it comes right through this set. Please do go and see them live, they are one of the most entertaining and talented bands in the UK. The guitar work alone is worth the cost of the album, but add the solid bass playing and drums and you have something very special indeed. A mix of new and original material .If you like artists such as Eric Bibb, Taj Mahal, Big Bill Broonzy, Big Joe Williams, you will love this. While not copying any of them their take on the blues is that territory and its wonderful stuff.
This is the Spikedrivers best yet. Blues Review gave it a great write-up for good reason. The songwriting and performance of front man Tyzack are impressive, as is the simple but profound instrumentation. The roots are delta blues, but hints of jazz and other influences appear throughout the thoroughly current sound. Analog recording on vintage equipment gives the whole album an amazingly warm and rich presentation. From tongue-in-cheek to sentimental, the songs span a wonderful and entertaining range. If you need your fix of delta blues, a dose of acoustic slide, or just love great guitar work, song-smithing and production, this is the one. Eclectic tastes should check it out for what's hot in the niche.
The Spikedrivers really hit the nail on the head with this one. Top-notch songwriting and performance along with the warmth and tonal beauty of analog recording make this a regular on my rotation. Unique and enjoyable.
Blues In Britian (UK) - 2004
Within Seconds you'll be drifting through the delta land with the title track on this excellent CD, then on to the hot dry plains on "Train Done Gone". SPIKEdrivers have the unique ability to conjure a presence, a sense of place, from a sound.
This is the second album with the current line-up, and also the second album produced by Phill Brown. A lot of the feeling that comes across here must be put down to the recording methods used by Phill at the Helioscentric studios, engineering sound on to a treasure trove of vintage analogue recording machinery, but in at least equal measure it's provided by SPIKEdrivers themselves.
Ben Tyzack plays a variety of guitars, including a Lowden acoustic tuned down to C, placing it in the baritone register beloved of Bob Brozman, and an old Hofner Committee which on "Oklahoma Stardust Blues" is guaranteed to give you shivers of pleasure. The instruments all count and you can really hear why Ben chose each one. Other guitars include a Gibson 125 and a Dobro-style resonator guitar made from a metal mixing bowl, although it looks more like a colander to me! Ben's voice is stronger than ever, and although he is responsible for 11 of the songs you would swear that these were blues songs archived and collected 50 years or more ago.
Constance Redgrave provides solid bass as ever and her vocals are getting stronger too; she contributes two songs. "You Don't Care" has a smoky, cabaret-like feel with echoes of Julie London and Lotte Lenya. This also emphasises another aspect of SPIKEdrivers on this album, they are still firmly rooted in the blues but they are bringing jazz and folk and world stylings by implication into a musical style which is becoming uniquely their own. "Grampa Was A Moonshiner" takes us firmly into bluegrass territory seeped in 100% overproof spirit!
Drummer Maurice McElroy's voice blends well with the others and on his two feature numbers, "Junk Mail Blues" and "Where Did The Money Go?", show a wry sense of humour can go a long way! Maurice is very much the rhythmic pluse of SPIKEdrivers and has brought some really unusual drums into the mix. These include an Udu drum, originating in Nigeria, reinvented in the States about 30 years ago and now often found in Flamenco music, and a Cajon, a wooded box like drum, with resonating strings and bells (what no whistles?), again with a flamenco feel but here bringing a feel of the southlands.
Fans of the band will not be disappointed, this album repays careful listening even more than their last, and anyone not familiar with the band who listens with open ears as it were, cannot fail to be converted on the sopt.
Paul Soper - Blues In Britian
Bass Player Magazine (US) - 2004
This UK-based blues trio sounds like they'd be more at home in the Mississippi Delta. The acoustic slide of Ben Tyzack dominates, the rhythm section work of Bassist Constance Redgrave and Maurice McElroy is fresh and inventive, breaking some well preserved conventions. On two tracks, the use of the Udu drum is a startling texture, yet fitting if you take the music to it's roots, which is something The Spikedrivers manage without being archival. A great sounding, traditional feeling record that colours outside the lines.
Ed Friedland - Bass Player
Triple R Blues Radio (NL) - 2004
Blue Trash is one of the finest albums I ever heard, I cannot quite "put it in a genre", it has the best of country blues, delta blues, something a little funky, sometimes mysterious, and one of the great things in it is the passion.... you can almost feel it.... you can almost feel the love... the love for the music, the love of playing together... the love of having such a gift: making great music.
Ton Wanton - Triple R Blues Radio
Mike 'the beehive' Elliot - 2004
The Spikedrivers have eschewed the easy option of following up on an existing formula and have produced a brilliant album of mid-west American urban blues, with a distinctly British twist. The songs are mainly about problems of life in the twenty-first century, with sentiments that anyone will relate to. The fourteen tracks don't have a weak link and offer exceedingly good value.
Ben Tyzack penned ten of these, generally taking lead vocals and showcasing his superb guitar skills and ballsy vocal style. This is epitomised in 'The Massey Ferguson Blues', a perceptive commentary on aging. Ben does offer a couple of obligatory railroad songs, 'Train Done Gone' uses an effective change of pace, whilst 'Layin' Down Lincolns' reflects the boredom of being a wage slave.
For my money, an album should have a defining track that makes me feel it is worth buying the CD just for that and 'Blue Trash' never let me down here. 'Grampa Was A Moonshiner' written and sung by brilliant bass guitarist, Constance Redgrave hit me right between the eyes. It is a masterpiece about race relations, mixed marriages and the problems of kids. The war drums are quite threatening and the repeated phrase "Dust Yourself Off.Walk On" is a superb piece of advice for us all. I guarantee you'll hit the skip back button.
Throughout the entire CD Maurice McElroy plays his drums with great sensitivity, but he is allowed to showcase his sense of humour, with the lament of the dissolute, 'Where Did All The Money Go?' and 'Junk Mail Blues.' We understand his problems.
Ben's perceptive eye produces a witty song in 'Garbage Man Blues' and I have great sympathy for this guy who realises that everybody needs him but nobody loves him. Ain't life a bitch! He picks up a suggestive laddish attitude in 'Seven Little Words', which are "I Just Wanna Make Love To You Babe." The rhythm and the peaks of the sound are most evocative.
Spikedrivers are an American/ British trio, who blend exceedingly well together and clearly enjoy performing together. All three are consummate musicians with their own inimitable vocal style. If you've never invested in any of their previous albums, then this would make an excellent start.
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