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Electro-fi (ELECTRO3447)

Baby You Have Got To Change, She Used To Be Beautiful, Walk That Lonesome Road, Two Legged Grey Mule, She May Be Your Woman, I Just Don’t Want You No More, Deep Down In The Dark, Congratulations That New Love You’ve Got Is My Wife, My Babe Is On This Train, You Don’t Have To Have Liquor (To Be A Fool), Marry Who You Really Need, If You Live To Get Old You Will Understand

Harmonica Shah’s sixth album for Electro-Fi and this just may be his best. Quite a claim given that each album before this has been an always impressive rock solid display of blues power and poise.

It’s not as though there are any substantial changes of approach and format here as once again the Electro-Fi production team for this release of Peter J. Moore, Alec Fraser and Andrew Galloway have delivered a superior sound that all albums on the label can boast. Also, the band selected for this recording is pretty much in line with recent Harmonica Shah albums, with the magnificent Julian Fauth on piano, Jack De Keyzer’s scintillating guitar and a rhythm section that presents the talents of Alec Fraser himself on bass and Bucky Berger on drums and percussion.

It may just be the novelty of being fresh and new but to my mind this album has even more punch and crunch than any of its predecessors. Things get off to a rollicking start on the opening track, Baby, You Have Got To Change, which has a vibe-setting killer riff over which Shah’s blues-wailing harp, De Keyzer’s guitar and Fauth’s piano each find space to take a solo. The next track, She Used To Be Beautiful, is delivered at a less frantic pace but is again a mightily impressive presentation of a hot contemporary blues band at the top of their game.

On a set of twelve all-original songs, there is plenty of variety and change of pace. On She May Be Your Woman an impressive hypnotic rumba rhythm is employed to help showcase the sublime band interplay, which also impresses on the album’s sole instrumental,  My Babe Is On This Train, where De Keyzer’s slide guitar stands out as one of the album’s many highlights.

On a few tracks Shah slows proceedings down somewhat and presents his more down-home and reflective side. Walk That Lonesome Road, with just the support of De Keyzer on backing guitar, is particularly effective  and the seven minute closing track, If You Live To Get Old You Will Understand is a gripping and powerful way to end this tremendous album.

If you enjoy blues bands modelled on the template first established by Muddy Waters in Chicago in the 1950s and popularised by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy in the 1960s, any Harmonica Shah album on Electro-Fi is worth your attention. But personally, I’d start here!

Review Date: January 2016

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