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Man From Another Time
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Man From Another Time
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2009 album from the Blues sensation. Produced, written, recorded and engineered by Seasick Steve (with the assistance of engineer Roy Williams), Man from Another Time is a resolutely organic album that eschews modern studio trickery in favour of the warm style of 'live' analogue recording. Everything on the album was performed by Seasick Steve, aside from drums which are credited to his longstanding Swedish sticksman Dan Magnusson. Seasick Steve utilised a variety of favorite guitars on the album including a one-string Didley-bo (a 2x4 with a string nailed to it), a guitar made out of an old cigar box (with four strings), his famous 3-string Trance Wonder guitar and an old beat-up acoustic guitar. His array of guitars were complimented by a tattered '50s Fender Tweed Deluxe amp, old '40s ribbon mics and other weird and wonderful vintage microphones. The natural sounds and echoes of the recording rooms were used for reverb and any delays were done with tape. Warner.
There aren’t many artists around who can get a groove out of a one-stringed guitar, but Seasick Steve can. It’s not so much a guitar as a piece of two by four with a string nailed to it. He calls it his Diddley Bow, and the resultant groove is exactly that as laid down by the bloke who (almost) had that name, only in reverse.
This third solo album is a cracking collection, one that rings with the depth of twang comparable only to the likes of the legendary Ry Cooder. That’s not surprising, given that Steve (real name Steven Gene Wold) sticks just as assiduously to the analogue way, all valve amps and ribbon microphones along with the extraordinarily-built instruments he uses: he introduces track three by saying, “Alright, little cigar box…”
That track is called Happy (To Have a Job), and it sums up Steve’s career. Born “around the post-war period” in Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay area, it seems he was a genuine, bona-fide hobo, fathering children fairly liberally, hitting it off with the grunge fraternity in Washington. Then came a move to Norway with the wife, which included a booze-cruise to Denmark, his reaction to which gave him the nickname he doesn’t particularly like, but is lumbered with.
Then, a couple of years ago, a few prescient UK festival bookers took a chance and he became the darling of the circuit, working audiences brilliantly and showing just how few trappings you need to nail it when you have this sort of natural ability. Steve’s spell in the spotlight might have arrived late in his life, but nobody can argue it’s not been deserved.
He has produced, written, recorded and engineered this release, and performs everything except the drums – here, Dan Magnusson steps in. Some listeners may bemoan a lack of bass in the mix, and to hear this material with a little more low end could be a treat, but that really is being picky. The groove, as you might already have noted, is impeccable; the songs are authentic and it all sounds so effortless – an effortlessness that can only come from a lot of living. --Nick Barraclough
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The disc is chock full of up tempo blues. It stomps, it boogies, it gets your feet tapping. It shows why Steve is one of the most highly regarded blues artists of the last 20 years.
The key to Steve's artistry is that, like all great blues artists, he has lived a full and eventful life, with much hardship. His writing and singing is inspired and informed by the years of hoboing around America. It adds another dimension to the recording, a touch of realism that sets it apart. It's reminiscent of the great Blues artists in 1950's Chicago, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, many of whom had tough lives before (and after) they found fame. Indeed, there are several occasions when Steve plays guitar breaks that sound a lot like Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker. That other great bluesman, Bo Diddley, gets a name check in the first song (a tribute to Steve's unique one string instrument, the Diddley Bo) which is based around the famous Diddley beat.
This is music straight from the heart. No meaningless lyrics, pointless overproduction or synthesisers, it's real music played by real people with a great deal of skill and a deep love of what they're doing. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys music with feeling. Probably not of interest to fans of Cowell style plastic pop. This record really deserves to collect a lot of awards. My only slight niggle is that there are none of the great spoken word stories of his life as a Hobo that were so effective on his previous recordings.
If you enjoy this then check out Steve's other offerings, `I started out with nothing', `Doghouse music' and `Cheap. I would also recommend `Electric Dirt' by Levon Helm, another record made with feeling.
Some great raucous tracks interspersed with quieter ballads, all of which demonstrate Steve's unique guitar playing style.
I like the fact that he uses different guitars, so each track has it's own "sound" and you cannot possibly become bored with the content.
The title song, "Man From Another Time" is fantastic.
He is accompanied again by Dan Magnusson on drums; good!
This album has a more polished feel about it, probably a little more commercial, which would appeal, I think, to a wider audience.
I cannot find any fault with it at all, although I do know that many listeners who like Seasick Steve, prefer his ealier work, which is quite stripped down, raw and gutsy.
Having said that, you cannot go wrong with this album, it's great and so I give it full marks.
Steve does not use so many intros to each song, as he has done on "I Started Out With Nothin'........", but if you buy this one, don't switch off your CD player too quickly as there is a little surprise after the "final" track!!