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Blues Round-up: February 2013

Album Review

Henry Yates on new releases from Otis Taylor, Savoy Brown, Robin Trower, Albany Down and Gov’t Mule

Otis Taylor: My World Is Gone

With February’s Contraband still haunting our stereos, Otis Taylor returns with My World Is Gone: a 13th album of sparse, skeletal, self-styled “trance-blues” that shouldn’t be played while operating heavy machinery. Taylor’s title and concept were sparked by a phrase used by Indigenous leader Mato Nanji to bemoan the plight of Native Americans, and lyrically it gives this eloquent chronicler plenty to sink his teeth into. Across these 13 songs, we hear of lynchings, alcoholism at the sharp end of the reservation and, on Sand Creek Massacre Mourning, the 1864 army-led slaughter of Cheyenne Indians, all sung in that beyond-the-grave voice. Taylor is still all about the vibe – a scuttle of drums here, a ghostly military-funeral cornet there – but Nanji’s stinging presence on electric guitar for six tracks has perhaps pushed him to get to the point, and on moments like Lost My Horse and Blue Rain In Africa, there’s a momentum and melody he’s sometimes overlooked. As a result, My World Is Gone proves to be another step up. (8/10)

Savoy Brown: Songs From The Road

The latest in Ruf’s live album series turns the spotlight on a revitalised Savoy Brown, whose well-received 2001 effort Voodoo Moon means guitarist and vocalist Kim Simmonds isn’t doomed to plunder his past glories on the road. Songs From The Road captures a rocking night out in Germany, with Simmonds not sparing the solos on Street Corner Talking, as well as giving a bonus DVD interview in which he reveals himself to be a genuinely likeable 60s survivor. (7/10)

Robin Trower: Roots & Branches

There’s been a spate of love-letter-to-my-youth blues covers albums of late, but Robin Trower’s is one of the strongest, twisting these criminally overplayed benchmarks out of shape (Hound Dog’s dirty half-time strut is a marked improvement on the King’s version), and dropping in a few originals that don’t jar too badly. An exercise in heel-kicking, perhaps, but an enjoyable one. (7/10)

Albany Down: Not Over Yet

God knows you’ll stifle yawns when Albany Down reveal Zeppelin, Free, Hendrix and the Stones as influences, but the British four-piece are clearly trying, with Back Again kicking off like an OK Corral gunfight and She’s The Light shooting for the Eastern spice of Kashmir. Elsewhere, moments like You Wanna Be My Baby prove that Albany Down can also do the basics. (6/10)

Gov’t Mule: The Georgia Bootleg Box

With the Capricorn years box set also available, let it never be said that Gov’t Mule leave their fans hungry. This bundling of three 1996 Georgia concerts is predictably brilliant, though we’d stress that with three virtually identical setlists spread over six discs, you’ll need to be an über-fan to plough through the lot. (7/10)

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