"I have always admired the way in which these three
Living Blues (USA) - February 2009 - Bob Tilling
This London, England-based trio has been working together now for over ten years, gaining a strong following all over Europe through appearances at many major clubs and festivals. Both Ben Tyzack (vocals, harmonica and guitar) and Constance Redgrave (vocals, bass guitar and percussion were brought up in the United States and now live permanently in the U.K, while Maurice McElroy (vocals, drums and percussion) hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland.. Together, they bring a wealth of experience in many styles of music, but their roots in the blues and world music seem strongest.
This 13-track release is their first live recording, and it certainly captures the energy and excitement of their stage show. They can really kick up a storm, often getting the audience up on their feet and dancing with the fast-tempoed high-energy titles?? Such as the two, Ghost Train Shuffle and Crazy Man, that open this set. With equal skill they can bring the tempo down to a gentle lilt, as with Hold Me Still, and still keep the audience captivated.
The trio is skillfully led by Tyzack, whose beautifully crafted slide guitar work is impeccable throughout and at its most atmospheric on Scarecrow Eyes. He captures the driving power of the Elmore James classic I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom. The Spikedrivers give this song a distinctive quality, as they do with Howlin’ Wolf’s evergreen Lil’ Red Rooster. Lead vocalist Tyzack has a strong and natural blues voice, and the backing vocals from Redgrave and McElroy add class and energy as each takes a solo track with great confidence.
The bass from Redgrave is as solid as you can get and McElroy’s drumming adds tremendous depth. This is good foot-tapping quality music-long may it last!
I have seen this wonderful trio on a few occasions and they are not only excellent musicians but have such great presence in a live setting. Here Ben (guitars), Constance (bass and washboard) and Maurice (drums and percussion) serve up a mix of classic blues and good time music at a superb live venue, High Barn. The set is beautifully recorded and shows just what a great live band they are. If you like Seasick Steve, then listen to Spikedrivers because they are even better, and deserve to be heard, at times rocking' along the blues at other times that gentle acoustic sound a little similar to Eric Bibb. This all adds up to a wonderful set of music sung by all members of the band, some astounding slide work by Ben, with a solid rhythm layer on bass and drums. You really must hear this album and treat yourself to one of our very best bands playing music that will get you tapping along on the boogie tunes and just sitting back and absorbing their slower material, all through every song makes this a very wonderful album not to be missed. Oh and Jools please get them on your tv show please they would then really get the credit they so deserve.
This CD really does show the Spikedrivers at their best. I've seen this band a number of times at different venues and wanted to capture it for myself; well here we have someone who's done it for me.The sound is excellent, proving what a great production team they have at the High Barn.
Buy this CD, sit back, listen to the great music and enjoy a great evening with a bottle of what you like...
Blues News, Finland - 2009 - Mikke Nöjd
These days when most of the bands are very loud, it's very nice to meet a group that doesn’t do their trick with only loud volumes and doing mostly acoustic stuff. The Spikedrivers comes from England (Ben Tyzack, Constance Redgrave & Maurice McElroy) they have already a long history together and there is at least three more cds available.
Ain’t It Real
(1) Devil’s Breath (2) Young & Stupid (3) Scarecrow Eyes (4) Mornin’ Train (5) Goodbye Mr Blues (6) Angel Of Blue (7) Blues To The River (8) Hold Me Still (9) Gypsy Wind (10) Wrong Way Henry (11) Smoochin’ (12) Two Left Feet (13) No Expectations (14) Wear Out My Name (15) Waterfall
Live At High Barn
Ghost Train Shuffle (2) Crazy Man (3) Blue Trash (4) Layin’Down Lincolns (5) Two Left Feet (6) Hold Me Still (7) Grampa Was A Moonshiner (8) Lil’Red Rooster (9) Scarecrow Eyes (10) Soul Searchin’ Blues (11) I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom (12) Young And Stupid (13) Shake Your Hips
Playing acoustic and not so loud are both very much yes. What I find out as a problem is that the band are drawing from two very different musical lines. From one side they trust in an old fashion country-blues side, and on the other hand they are reaching for a folk kind of music. The blues kinda stuff is very good on the record, sometimes very-very good, but about that folk thing I don't like. The band has been performing a lot in various folk- and world music- happenings. From the folk-side comes an instrumental (track 3), that has a very nice mood, a ballad (track 4), a slow number (track 8), a Rolling Stones cover (track 13) and an instrumental that ends the album (track 15). The worst track is (track 6), sung by Constance. The song is kinda strange way-out psychedelic something kinda thing. On the most tracks it's Ben the guitarist who takes care of the singing.
If Constance took care one of the worst tracks (track 6), so she gives us also one of the finest moments on the album. Track (9) rolls around with a good-mood and in a kind of light-swing-jazz tempo. Track (2) is a steady straight-forward rocker, witch works fine without too many tricks, and I put the instrumental (track 11) much in the same category. The opening track takes us straight to the Delta, and the dark-coloured song is very impressive. I found old-timey blues moods on such tracks as (5), (7), especially forward tempo (track 10), and (track 14). Track (12) is also a very old-fashioned song, it's a kind of novelty-blues, and it's very funny too.
I know I shouldn't, but I just have to draw very strong lines between these two albums. The split between the blues and the folk -music are still going on, but I have to mention that in a live situation the intensity grows strongly. As a fast look I put (track 3) in the folk-category, or if I want to be clever in the world-music -category. Track (6) with all these tingle-tangles is really not going anywhere. In this category is the best (track 9), with some really nice moods. From the blues side comes the two opening tracks, (track 1) is quite funny boogie number, and the solos have a jam session kinda feeling. Track (2) grows from an acoustic number to an electric shuffle number, and it rolls very well. Country-blues number (4) is a steady number and as a clever idea there is a piece of ”Roll & Tumble” mixed in between. The novelty number (track 5) was already mentioned as a studio version, it's still working great. Also on the studio album was (track 12), this one has changed to a more rocking style. Only track Constance is singing on these albums is (track 7). It's a kind of strange number. I'd call this “indian-blues”, it's something that Tom Waits might do. All the covers were left here in the end, (track 8) is naturally a Howlin' Wolf classic, and the version is very good. Best known by Robert Johnson or Elmore James is (track 11) is working fine as a hard rocking version. And the Slim Harpo number ends the album, it's quite a good version, but nearly ten minutes it's too much, even with all these live feelings. Oops! I missed one (track 10) is a good shuffle number with some great slide-guitar included.
If you don't let these two different lines bother you, so it's for sure worth listening out. And if you have to choose between these two albums, it's the live-album that gets the higher points.
Blues Matters!- December 2008 - Norman Darwen
This is the first live album from this Anglo-Irish-American three-piece and it has certainly been worth the wait. It is not difficult to understand why they have built up such a large and loyal following. The big, crystal clear sound shows they have a way with impressive rocking Blues, such as Ghost Train Shuffle and Soul Searchin Blues, or a slower more introspective original such as Blue Trash, with Ben Tyzack’s authentic vocals, excellent slide guitar and its unusual, effective and insistent percussion backing.
Their approach could be defined as Delta Blues plus, as the band is strongly rooted in the tradition but unafraid to introduce other elements – take a listen to the percussion, which can sometimes recall Doctor Ross’s mention of being accompanied by someone scraping a broom across the floor or the Indian drumming on that aforementioned Blue Trash.
Or try the very English vocals of Two Left Feet. Or lend an ear to the delicately picked Hold Me Still. Or the ever-increasing energy as the set draws to a close. Or better still just buy this hugely entertaining CD by one the best on the circuit.
Blues in Britain - December 2008 - Frank Franklin
This is the first and overdue release of a live session from blues club-circuit and festival favourites The Spikedrivers. Ghost Train Shuffle and Crazy Man open proceeding with good tempo. The tone changes with the comparatively new Blue Trash and its percussive resonance. Perennial favourite Layin Down Lincolns precedes the Mahal/Bibb influenced Hold Me Still.
This in turn is sandwiched between drummer Maurice McElroy’s Two Left Feet and bassist Constance Redgrave’s unsettling Grampa Was A Moonshiner feature.
The first of three covers, Dixon’s Lil Red Rooster is done with a Green/Albatrosse-esque backdrop and followed by the atmospheric instrumental Scarecrow Eyes. The tempo is upped again with Soul Searchin Blues and official set closer. Johnson's
Two encores ensue: Young and Stupid and Moore’s
Ben Tyzack’s voice is distinct and his slide guitar impeccable throughout. This recording captures the intensity and dynamics of a live Spikes show, how they build it up, and take it down, depicting exactly how they are live.
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