Sunday, 3 July 2016

"Dirty Blues Band/Stone Dirt" by DIRTY BLUES BAND (2007 Beat Goes On 2LPs Remastered Onto 1CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Bring It On Home..." 

I came to the DIRTY BLUES BAND via Led Zeppelin. I was trawling the racks of some dusty record shack back in the murky 70ts when I stumbled on the rather cool-looking "Stone Dirt" LP for a couple of nicker - sat there in the small 'Blues' section - forlorn, unloved and without a prom date. I was on a massive Zeppelin tip at the time (probably "Physical Graffiti") and noticed the first track "Bring It On Home" and then "I Can't Quit You Baby". The Zepsters had of course 'adapted' both for 1969's "Zeppelin II" and "Led Zeppelin" respectively.

Written by Chess Records in-house genius Willie Dixon and made a hit by Sonny Boy Williamson – "Bring It On Home" had always been a favourite Blues-Rock poison of mine. So I bought the LP anyway (back when you could afford to experiment with titles) – got it home - slapped it onto my trusty Garrard SP25 - and to my utter amazement - out pops an almost identikit rendition of the Zeppelin 'adapted' version. And given that the album received its UK release on Liberty Records in February 1969 - this is where they lifted the idea from (naughty boys).

In 2016 few remember the six California White Boys of the DIRTY BLUES BAND - but this fantastic Blues-Rock CD is a stone-winner if you dig Paul Butterfield, Jellybread, Bacon Fat and Johnny Winter's early career with Columbia in the late Sixties. Featuring the combined talents of singer and Blues Harmonica player ROD "Gingerman" PIAZZA (see my review for 'The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions' for Bacon Fat and George Smith which featured Piazza) and ace guitarist GLENN ROSS CAMPBELL (The Misunderstood, Juicy Lucy and Joe Cocker's Grease Band) – the debut was recorded September 1967 and like it’s follow up offers up a straightforward diet of hard-hitting Blues-Rock that channels the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on every song. Here are the murky details...

UK released November 2007 (reissued October 2009) - "Dirty Blues Band/Stone Dirt" by DIRTY BLUES BAND on Beat Goes On BGOCD 784 (Barcode 5017261207845) offers their 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (79:47 minutes):

1. Don't Start Me Talkin' [Sonny Boy Williamson cover]
2. What is Soul, Babe? [John Milliken and Rod Piazza song]
3. Hound Dog [Leiber/Stoller song - Elvis Presley cover]
4. New Orleans Woman [Roy Brown cover]
5. I'll Do Anything Babe [Rod Piazza song]
6. Checkin' Up On My Baby [Sonny Boy Williamson cover] - Side 2
7. Shake It Babe [Robert Sandell and Rod Piazza song]
8. Worry, Worry Blues [Rod Piazza song]
9. Born Under A Bad Sign [Booker T. Jones and William Bell song - Albert King cover]
10. Spoonful [Willie Dixon song - Howlin' Wolf cover]
11. Chicken Shack [Ike Turner cover]
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut album "Dirty Blues Band" - released February 1968 in the USA on Bluesway BL 6010 (Mono) and Bluesway BLS 6010 (Stereo) and August 1968 in the UK on Stateside SL 10234 (Mono) and Stateside SSL 10234 (Stereo) - this CD uses the STEREO Mix.

"Dirty Blues Band" LP Line Up:
ROD "Gingerman" PIAZZA - Harmonica and Lead Vocals
ROBERT SANDELL - 6-String Guitar

12. Bring it On Home [Willie Dixon song - Sonny Boy Williamson cover]
13. It's My Own Fault Baby [John Lee Hooker cover]
14. I Can't Quit You Baby [Willie Dixon song - Otis Rush cover]
15. Tell Me [Rod Piazza song]
16. She's The One [Rod Piazza song]
17. My Baby [Willie Dixon song - Little Walter cover]
18. Sittin' Down Wonderin' [Rod Piazza song]
19. Six Sides [Rod Piazza song]
20. You've Got To Love Her With Feeling [Freddie King and Sonny Thompson cover]
21. Gone Too Long [Rod Piazza song]
Tracks 12 to 21 are their second and last studio album "Stone Dirt" – released October 1968 in the USA on Bluesway BLS-6020 (Stereo) and February 1969 in the UK on Stateside SL 10268 (Mono) and Stateside SSL 10268 (Stereo) - the STEREO mix is used for this CD.

"Stone Dirt" LP Line Up:
ROD "Gingerman" PIAZZA - Harmonica and Lead Vocals
PAT MALONEY - Organ and Piano
WILLIE GREEN – Baritone Sax

It comes with a tasty looking card slipcase - a 12-page booklet with affectionate and very informative liner notes from DAVID WELLS (with acknowledgments to Mike Stax and the Ugly Things magazine). There are recording credits and a few repro photos. But the big news is a fabulous new Remaster from ANDREW THOMPSON using original tapes. This CD Boogies, Blues and generally wants to start a fight with your Stereo. And it has a near 80-minute playing time. Really great stuff and a blast to listen too...

LEE MAGID produced both albums – but in different ways. While the second benefitted from a polished audio – he went for a loose 'live and raw as a wound' sound on the first record. The band was reportedly unhappy with the sonic results but I'd argue that its 'miked up raw ands real dirty' sound actually produced an exciting uncluttered feel. This sucker Rocks. What you have here is hard-hitting Chicago Blues with Glenn Ross Campbell blistering away on the Guitar while Piazza blasts that deep 'Blues' Harmonica into the microphone like he’s literally tapping into the Delta. The first album sounds like Jeff Beck's "Truth" - huge and rocking. Drummer John Milliken had seen the Paul Butterfield Blues Band supporting The Byrds a year prior to recording the album in September 1967 and was duly blown away. And you can 'so' hear that Elektra artist’s influence all over the album – especially in the covers of Roy Brown's "New Orleans Woman" and the loud and bluesy opener "Don't Start Me Talking". It's a bit like a crude version of Stan Webb's Chicken Shack in your living room.

But even more impressive is the emergence of Piazza as a Blues songwriter. His "I'll Do Anything Babe" is probably the best thing on the first LP and you wish he'd penned more. And what can you say about the Mike Bloomfield meets Ritchie Blackmore guitar genius of Glenn Ross Campbell. He left after the first album but was the axeman who did that staggering slide guitar on Juicy Lucy's wild debut 7" single "Who Do You Love?" on Vertigo VO 1 in February 1970 – surely one of 'the' great Slide-Guitar Rock singles of the decade. His playing on the debut is the same – unbelievable for a kid under 20...

Magid didn't mess around for the production of "Stone Dirt" - more polished and therefore in many ways more accessible. And the accomplishment and progression of the band on the second album is startling - plus it's a more even-handed affair with five covers sided by five cracking originals. The opener is my poison - a cover of "Bring it On Home" the arrangement of which Zeppelin half-inched. I've played this song on CD-Rs to people and they're jaws drop open - don't I know that tune from somewhere?

While Bluesway in America tried "Hound Dog" b/w "New Orleans Woman" as a 45 way back in April 1968 (Bluesway 61016) for the debut LP - neither they nor Stateside in the UK put out a 45 for "Stone Dirt". Shame really as the punchy three-minute Piazza original "Six Sides" with its Little Walter fun-time vibe would have been a good choice (with the superb full-on Blues cover of John Lee Hooker's "It's My Own Fault Baby" on the flip-side). Replacing Campbell Ross it was the turn of Rick Lunetta to shine on guitar for the slow and powerful "You Got To Love Her With A Feeling" - a rare case of it being better than the Freddie King original. The LP ends on the R&B boogie of "Gone Too Long" and you're reminded of Johnny Winter meets Spencer Davis Group (guitar and organ). The whole record is just 'so' enjoyable - in fact - top marks to all at Beat Goes On of the UK for making these forgotten nuggets available again.

"...I done bought my my load...conductor hollered...all abroad..." - they Harmonica warble on "Bring It On Home".

Watch this train move down the track and into your CD player... 

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