If you've never bought a Blues Band CD then this is the place to start. It's right at the band's musical beginning, you get studio and live together, and best of all it's two great albums for the price of one. I know blues is an emotional expression of life's sorrows, and that's there of course, but you just can sense the band's real joy in getting together to play great music. They can all play, and most people know of Paul Jones and Tom McGuinness, but if you've never discovered Dave Kelly's vocal and slide guitar before then you're missing something. I could point you to more sopisticated later albums (like 'Fat City' and 'Brassed Up') or to blistering live performances (especially on 'Live') but if you want a bit of everything then get this brilliant double. Go on go on go....
The emergence of the Blues Band at the end of the 1970s was a curious occurrence, given the musical climate at the time. New wave was giving way to synth-pop, ska and bands who made a reputation out of being both miserable and inept. The debut album is full of covers, starting with an Elmore James number that features some juicy slide guitar, and this sets the tone. It had all been done before, of course, much of it by the musicians on show. But at the time it was refreshing and, if anything, it sounds even better now. They received some decent publicity at the time, but came across more like a band you'd see at the pub, except that they possessed a great deal of stagecraft. This, though, is a little overdone on one track, 'I Don't Know', on which Paul Jones draws on a little too much of his acting experience.
The second album contains a lot more original material, all of it of a good standard. 'Ready', however, doesn't quite have the same level of bonhomie. You sense that they're taking the process of recording a little more seriously. Even so, a good value release and more fun than the likes of Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire.
Back in 1979 a bunch of respected artists decided that what the world needed wasn't another punk rock band, but a group of musicians with pedigree who could actually play their instruments. Paul Jones (formerly of Manfred Mann fame), Tom McGuiness (Manfred Mann and McGuiness&Flint), Dave Kelly (worked with John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Howlion' Wolf) and Gary Fletcher were already well known and well respected artists, with impeccable blues pedigrees, and they formed the Blues Band.
This excellent twofer presents the band's first two albums - the official Bootleg album (so called because a falling out with the record company meant they had to bootleg their own recordings and sell them privately) and Ready. The first album has a real joy de vivre about it. Fast paced blues played by a talented band who know their stuff and love doing what they are doing. Their experience and talent shines through, and a classic album of entertaining blues results.
The second album is a bit of a change, with more self penned material. However, the tone is much the same, with a real wit shining through this set of fast paced numbers. Another classic.
Great albums, an essential purchase for any lover of British blues music.
I used to own these recordings on vinyl. But moving in with my girlfriend meant, inevitably?, that some of my things had to go, inclusing the record collection. I discovered that among the records I missed the most were the Blues Band. U2, Rolling Stones, and the rest could all be easily replaced - but not the Blues Band. The records are still brilliant, and if you're unfamiliar with the band, here's what I think: buy them! Using the familar 12-bar blues as their starting point, the band gets in to all corners of rhythm and blues (in its original sense!) If you're looking for 12/8 slow blues with loads of guitar, this is the wrong album, but if you want to progress beyond that and hear what a bunch of excellent musicians can create, this is it.