Well, you don’t have to be a genius to make an educated guess that an album with the names Ali Maas and Micky Moody writ large on the sleeve is going to be a winner. If you have the slightest doubt about that, then all you need to do is place Black & Chrome in the CD player, and within seconds your doubts would be allayed. For some time now, I’ve rated Ms Maas as one of several exceptionally good female vocalists currently working in the UK; and Mr.Moody has been on the Quill’s geetar maestro shortlist for decades! Furthermore I’ve met them both and they’re thoroughly nice people. (See my gig review #23).
Black & Chrome is an eleven track collection of original works penned by Moody and Maas themselves. It covers a good and varied range of Blues and Blues-based styles; and it is a tangible display of both the performing, as well as the song-writing skills of this remarkable pairing. They’ve been working together for some time now, and their collaborations are a joy to hear (and see live). They both have their own individual projects of course but have come together (as they often do) for this work, and have created something very special indeed.
Right from the wonderful opening track ‘Horse Or A Harley’, the bar is set high; but the excellent second offering ‘Why Does A Man’ (‘…who says he loves me, make me cry’?) fully rises to the challenge….and so it continues. From the acoustic beauty of ‘Hanging On A Chain’; through the Elmore-esque ‘Same Blues, Different Day’; to the soulful ‘A Change In Everything’ with its fine solo. From the shuffle ‘Taking Me Home’; through the raw Blues of ‘Do Some Time’; to the Country vibe of ‘Farewell To All The Sad Songs’. And from the heart-felt love song ‘Here I Stay’; through the Funky Blues of ‘Hell Bent’ with its Albert King-like guitar; to the final fun number ‘Now I Got My Mojo Back’; the quality is high, and the range of style/genre is impressively broad.
Ali’s vocals are wonderful throughout (as we’ve come to expect) – full of passion and drive. She conveys the tenderness or pain of love; as necessary with a controlled and impressive ease. Her backing vocals / harmonies are great too.
And Micky’s guitar-work is (not surprisingly) superb as well – thoughtful, inventive solos, and interesting rhythm parts make his input a joy to hear. But what I particularly liked was his trade-mark slide-work of which I have been an admirer of since the 70s. MM also played bass, mando, B-bender; and console steel guitars on various tracks too; as well as singing lead vocal on ‘Taking Me Home’.
M & M are assisted in their endeavors by some fine musos: Jimmy Copley (drums); Ian Jennings (bass); Ollie Parfitt (keys); Jon Buckett (keys); Alan Glen (harp); Nick Newall (flute / sax); and Micky Moody Jnr (percussion). All very impressive artists indeed.
The CD comes in a card tri-fold case with the disc fitted centrally. It contains photos and basic info / credits etc; but no lyrics unfortunately, which is a shame because the words to some of these songs are interesting and inventive. If you like a bit of variety within yer Blues, I’d say its a must buy album (and must go and see live) – you won’t be disappointed! PTMQ