Thursday, 2 October 2008

"The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by KEY LARGO [including the "Key Largo" LP] (2008 Sony/Blue Horizon CD Reissue & Remaster With Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry…

"...Big Chief..."

"The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by KEY LARGO revolves around the British blues band sole self-titled debut LP for the cult UK blues label 'Blue Horizon' – a hard-to-find £70 to £100 vinyl rarity. This superb 2008 Sony CD Remaster adds on five juicy bonuses too. Here are the key details...

PAT McAULIFFE on Vocals with LAURENCE GARMAN on Harmonica
BOB SAVAGE on Keyboards
TOM STEAD on Bass with KENNY LAMB on Drums & Percussion

Released September 2008 - "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by KEY LARGO on Sony/Blue Horizon 88697359862 (Barcode 886973598627) is a CD compilation and breaks down as follows (53:26 minutes):

1. Big Chief (Part 1)
2. Axe And The Wind
3. Give It Up
4. What Do I Do With It (Now I’ve Got It)
5. Stranger In My Own Home Town
6. That Did It
7. Big Chief (Part 2)
8. Medley: (a) Come And Get It, Baby (If You Want It) – Bit One (b) Get It In Together) (c) Come And Get It, Baby (If You Want It) – Bit Two
9. O.S. Blues
10. Wrapped Up In Love Again
11. Biscayne Bug
12. As The Years Go Passing By
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album “Key Largo” issued in the UK in September 1970 on Blue Horizon S 7-63859

Track 13 is “Voodoo Rhythm” - the non-album A-side issued on 7” single 2 October 1970 on Blue Horizon 57-3178 (it’s B-side is the last track on the album “As The Years Go Passing By”)

14. Sweet Home Chicago [by STEAMHAMMER]
15. Soul Survivor [by STEAMHAMMER]
16. So Many Roads [by STEAMHAMMER]
17. Soul Survivor [by STEAMHAMMER]
Tracks 14 to 17 are previously unreleased DEMO recordings of the band credited under their original name STEAMHAMMER - recorded in September/October 1969 in Mono

SIMON WOOD at Dubmaster Studios in Hampshire has transferred the original master tapes while SEAN LYNCH at Torch Music did the digitally remastering and editing – and the usual high standard has been achieved. The album itself sounds clean, but the extras are crude and very hissy. The 8-page booklet has an essay on the album sessions by label boss MIKE VERNON, a detailed blurb on each member of the group and even pictures the A&B of the lone 7” single they produced in its distinctive ‘red’ label bag (they’re usually blue). A card wrap covers the outside – it’s mid-price too – all good - classy as ever.

The music is a strange hybrid of Dr. John’s New Orleans rhythm ‘n’ blues mixed with a slightly Blodwyn Pig feel on the more rockin’ tracks (most songs segue into each other without a break). The album opens with an excellent instrumental version of Earl King’s “Big Chief (Part 1)”, followed by a bluesy cover of Willie Dixon’s “Axe & The Wind” which features superb backing brass. Laurence Garman plays great Harmonica and Jew’s Harp on a very funky and soulful cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Give It Up”.  Given the wads of previously unreleased material we’ve been treated to on almost all of their other BH releases, the extras on this one are a huge disappointment – the demos are very crudely recorded and frankly a bit dull. With just a plodding “Voodoo Rhythm” to comfort us - all of it leaves the album itself – on ok-only white-boy blues album – a little naked and alone.

I’ve loved all the BH releases to date, but this is a good release rather than a great one. Still, for the better album tracks on here debuting for the first time on CD – I’d recommend it.

PS: see also reviews for TOP TOPHAM, GORDON SMITH and JELLYBREAD in this round of September 2008 reissues

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