Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Stumble - The Other Side

You can’t beat a bit of good home cooking, can you?  A big, satisfying beef casserole maybe, made with love and the best of ingredients, perfectly seasoned and with a bouquet garni chucked in for extra flavour.  Dished up on a proper plate, with a hefty serving of mashed spuds to soak up the gravy.  Sounds pretty good to me.
What’s all this about, you’re asking?  I’ll tell you what.  I’m talking about the kind of kicks I get from listening to The Stumble cook up a storm on The Other Side.  None of your teenage guitar sensations, fancy-dan producers for hire or big name collaborators
The Stumble - the next big boy band?
Pic by Alan Partington
necessary here.  This is no nonsense, honest to goodness R&B, delivered with passion, imagination, and buckets of musical nous by a bunch of old lags based in Lancashire who sound like they’re having a ball.
The Other Side is an ensemble piece for sure, but the obvious place to start is with singer Paul Melville.  If there’s a sandpaper rasp to Melville's voice, it’s of the finest grade, as he lends a towering, soul-shaking dimension to each of the various blues and rock’n’roll styles explored by chief songwriter and drummer Boyd Tonner and the rest of the gang.
And it sure is a varied collection.  It ranges from the stonking boogie woogie of opener ‘New Orleans’, with honky tonk piano from guest keys man Justin Randall, to the Madness-like bopping rhythm of ‘Only You’, emphasised by the honking sax of Simon Anthony Dixon; from the crooning Fifties rock’n’roll of ‘Under Your Command’, with its sweet slide guitar, to the country-tinged folk of ‘One True Rock’ with Celtic fiddle from Richard Curran.
In between all of these diversions there’s plenty of raunchy, expansive R&B, epitomised by
Paul Melville does some soul-shaking
Pic by Alan White Photos
the blast that is ‘Be My Slave’, while on ‘Freedom Like A Woman’ some Bruce Hornsby like piano frills give way to a scorching guitar solo from Colin Black, like Tonner a founder member of the band.  It’s not the only time Black gets let off the leash either, his outing on ‘Heat Of The Night’ being just one of several instances where he lights the blue touchpaper.
The sheer quality of some of Tonner’s songwriting shouldn’t be overlooked either.  The aforementioned ‘Freedom Like A Woman’ is full of light and shade, providing the foundations for Dixon to lay down some smouldering sax, and Melville to demonstrate both control and passion.  ‘Bullet For The Blind’ is similarly dynamic, with an earworm of a hook, while on ‘Evening’ they fan the flames of a smoky, jazzy, late-night vibe.
Overall the sound is a potent mix, with the rhythm section of Tonner’s drums and Cameron Sweetnam’s bass always in the sweet spot, and further solidified by Ant Scapens guitar, with added colour from both Dixon’s sax and Randall’s piano.
I’m left with the inescapable impression that The Stumble not only know what they’re doing, they aim to have a damn good time doing it.  So get on your dancing shoes, turn the volume up, and shake yer booty!

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