Tag Archives: elmore james

62. RUBY TIGER’s new single: ‘It Hurts Me Too’; and a little about her forthcoming live EP.

I was delighted to hear that my friend, Blues singer Ruby Tiger had recorded a new single entitled ‘It Hurts Me Too’. I’d been wondering if she would be in the studio again sometime soon; because its been a year since the release of her wonderful debut EP Vistas. She invited me to the Vistas EP launch party in her hometown of Chichester, Sussex, at that time; and I was very impressed by both the EP and the live performance given by herself and her band, The Revelators. (See my Blog entry #16).

Ruby Tiger: It hurts me too (Photo by permission of Oliva Stevens)

Ruby Tiger: It hurts me too (Photo by permission of Olivia Stevens)

‘It Hurts Me Too’ is, of course, a cover of the old Blues standard first recorded by Tampa Red – and perhaps more famously by Elmore James. I like it a lot. My readers will already know that I appreciate a cover; but it has to be a fresh interpretation for me, not a slavish copy – otherwise I can see no point in doing it. The song has been covered by many an artist, with many a take, of course, but I’m glad to report that Ruby has given this old staple a fine new make-over; arranged in collaboration with her dear friend King Rollo, a veteran Bluesman and one-time member of The Revelators (and a name well-known to this Blog, see entry #52).

Ruby describes the song for herself very well indeed….

‘This was one of the first tracks that I began performing with King Rollo some 5 years ago. I found a version by 70’s troubadour Karen Dalton much admired by Dylan and fell in love with the more folky stripped back treatment, which lent the lyrics a more yearning affect…this is what I’ve striven to achieve; to draw out all the emotion that the song’s unique take on how it feels to love someone, evokes’.

If you download the track, I think you’ll agree that Ruby has achieved exactly what she set out to do with this song. Her soulful voice is a joy to hear. She conveys the emotion that she intended – yet remains controlled throughout. I think there is a great deal of Ruby herself in this song; and that’s why it works so well – its from the heart. Rollo’s guitar work is excellent, as we’ve come to expect; and there is additional Lap Steel Guitar from Nick Evans. The song was produced and recorded by King Rollo; and a fine job he’s done too. It will only be available as a download though (link below).

So what else does Ruby have in the pipeline at the moment? When I spoke to her on the phone the other day, she was excited not only about the release of this new single; but also about her forthcoming live EP. This was recorded on 14th July, at The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon, Surrey; and mixed by Simon Taylor at EQ Audio. It will contain 5 or 6 tracks from the Ruby And The Revelators’ set played that evening – which by all accounts was a great show. The new EP should be available by mid-September; and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing it.

Ruby and her band are a great live act and I’d recommend going to see them. They’ve been gigging further afield than their South Coast homebase lately too – including London’s prestigious 100 Club in Oxford Street – and that is a measure of their increasing popularity. Forthcoming gigs are detailed on Ruby’s website (see below). Enjoy! PTMQ

Here is a link to Bandcamp where you can download the song…

https://rubytiger.bandcamp.com/track/it-hurts-me-too-elmore-james

Here is a link to Ruby’s website….

http://rubytigersings.com/

53. MARTIN McNEILL “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” (Bottleneck Blues, 2015)

'Lately I've Let Things Slide' (Photo: PTMQ)

‘Lately I’ve Let Things Slide’ (Photo: PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is a name that my regular readers will know by now. His new album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide, is the second of two excellent new acoustic Blues albums that I’ve been sent for review recently – the other being King Rollo’s Easy Street  (see my previous review #52). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when Martin said that he had an album on CD to send me, because I didn’t even know he’d been in the studio! Back in January when I spoke to him at a  Milton And Farrow gig (see my review #33), he said that he’d never really been too involved with recording – although he had released an earlier album about fifteen years ago (which I haven’t heard). Well I’m glad to say that his remarkable talents are on record once more with the release of this fine collection.

There are twelve tracks on the album – mostly covers; but every one reworked in Martin’s inimitable style. One song however, is penned by Martin himself. He sings all vocals; and plays all guitars and harmonica. The title is well-chosen, as bottleneck slide is what this opus is all about – Martin being a master of the art.

The title track starts us off. Its a sad, yet somehow amusing, Nick Lowe song that Martin has given a Blues-style make-over, with the bottleneck slide technique for which he is well known. It works well; and prefigures what’s to come.

The second track, the old Blues classic ‘You Gotta Move’, (an old classic made famous by Mississippi Fred McDowell), has coincidentally been included in both Martin’s and Rollo’s new albums. And as I wrote in the previous Blog entry, although many have covered the song, each has done so in their own distinctive way. Certainly, Martin’s version here, can also be added to the long list of fine covers of this old Blues number – but no; I won’t be drawn into which I prefer!

(Photo: PTMQ)

Bottleneck slide maestro Martin McNeill at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar, Essex in April 2015.(Photo: PTMQ)

‘On The Road Again’ is of course the old Floyd Jones song made famous by Canned Heat back in ’67. Martin has reworked it; and its good. And I must say I prefer it to many other versions (including even the Canned Heat one – because I never really liked the vocals!).

Keb Mo (real name: Kevin Moore) is the writer behind the next song ‘Keep It Simple’. I must admit I’m not too familiar with his work; but thanks to Martin I’m now a little wiser!  Lovely  sound on the lead on this one. And another old classic, the RL Burnside song ‘Going Down South’ gets the MM treatment next!

‘Pickin’ The Blues’ is a chirpy little instrumental; again covered by many – including the greatest of all slide guitarists – the legendary Elmore James. But Martin does the old master proud on this one. This is followed by two more oft-covered old staples: ‘Rain Down Tears’; and   ‘Waiting For My Baby’ (another McDowell number).

‘Mad With me’ is the one song in this collection that is penned by McNeill himself; and its the only chance we have of seeing how deeply all this Blues has entered his psyche! And to be honest, if i didn’t know it was a McNeill song, I’d assume it was an oldie that I didn’t know! So he has certainly showed himself to be a good song-writer on the strength of this one. He also demonstrates that he’s a decent Harp player too. It compliments the oldies nicely!

The Gary Nicholson / Guy Clark  penned ‘Leap Of Faith’; and another Keb Mo song ‘I’m On Your Side’ are up next. Both covers are well arranged and satisfying to hear – nice Harmonica again on the latter. Then finally two old songs are cleverly fused together: the haunting instrumental ‘Paris Texas’ by Ry Cooder; and Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ (without the lyric).

Martin’s vocals are unusual. He manages to pull off the most unlikely thing of singing Blues songs with an English accent – but still making it sound right! I don’t know of anyone else who can do this. He has a relaxing voice and easy, clear vocal style too. Quite pleasant to listen to.

The album was recorded by Jon Webber at JWS Studios. The cover is of the card and plastic gate-fold type which I prefer; with photos by Tim Hubbard and The Dim Locator; plus a basic track listing with writer credits.

If you like a bit of acoustic Blues, then you’ll love both this album and King Rollo’s too; and I can highly recommend them both. I’m looking forward to seeing both of these quite remarkable Bluesmen again at gigs ASAP. Martin regularly hosts Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s Music Bar in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex with a different special guest every week. For all his other gigs (including with his band Bottleneck Blues), see his website…….

 http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

 PTMQ