Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters - Jed Potts and the Hillman Hinters

Must admit I’m feeling a bit guilty about having taken so long to get round to reviewing this first album by Jed Potts and the Hillman Hunters, since they released it a couple of months back.  But hey, it took Jed Potts ages to get the damn thing out, so I’ll cut myself a little slack.
Potts is a prominent fixture on the Edinburgh blues/funk/jazz music scene, showing off his guitar skills in a variety of different bands.  His own trio, as this debut recording featuring ten covers and three originals demonstrates, focuses on good time rock’n’rollin’ blues.  I’d have liked to hear another of his originals, the entertaining ‘Ain’t It Rough (When Your Baby’s In The Huff)’, but sadly that will have to wait for another day.
Jed Potts - Is this man a gangster of love?
Two of the three Kings are to the fore, kicking off with BB King’s ‘Days Of Old’, which sets the tone with lots of energy and sparkling guitar from Potts, notes bending and snapping hither and yon.  His voice is on the light side, without the depth or rasp of yer real deal blues singer, but he compensates for that with good phrasing, injecting songs with the necessary personality.  The sound is also a bit on the thin side, lacking a bit of bottom to properly bring out Jonny Christie’s kick drum and Charlie Wild’s bass, which is a pity because they’re a swinging rhythm section, but after cranking the volume up a bit I gradually got used to it.
And speaking of swinging, Freddie King’s ‘Sen-Sa-Shun’ is the first of a few instrumentals on which Potts throws off sparks with his guitar as he skates around in numerous directions – and even if the drum sound is a bit tinny, Christie’s contribution still gives the tune the requisite fizz.  The self-penned instrumental ‘Puttin’ It Aboot’, meanwhile, is even more rapid-fire, with racing bass and drums and Potts’ fingers well and truly nimble over the top of a jazzy beat that hints at Sean Costello – an influence that’s even more apparent on the later ‘Draughts’, with its lazy sense of swing, and casual strumming of bright chords interspersed with licks fired in from unexpected angles.
There’s a sense of fun abroad throughout, whether in the simplicity of an old-fashioned rock’n’roll such as Elvis’s ‘Tryin’ To Get To You’, on which they capture the vibe perfectly, or BB King’s ‘Fishin’ After Me’ – ‘Catfish Blues’ by any other name – with its skipping rhythm and Potts combining rhythm and lead playing to great effect.  Meanwhile Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Gangster Of Love’, with its stop-time riff a la Muddy, is delivered with the wit it deserves.
Taking things down a notch the original ‘Four Leaf Clover’ is a major key but sounding-kinda-minor slow blues that’s mellow, with a well-honed arrangement, subtle dynamics, and plenty of variation in style, and while ‘Down In The Alley’, by the rather obscure Nappy Brown, doesn’t manage the level of angstiness someone like Sean Costello might bring to it, Potts still coaxes surprising accents of a non-pedal variety from his guitar.
Either side of the latter, Rudy Greene’s uptempo ‘Juicy Fruit’ is all buzzing, rattling guitar, and Freddie King’s ‘Sidetracked’ brings the curtain down in suitably effervescent and relaxed fashion.
Jed Potts ain’t no shredding blues rock guitar slinger.  He’s an old school electric blues player, and an inventive one at that. His brand of music is really a live thing, for people to shake their collective booty.  But meantime, anyone fancy a party?  Okay then - let’s grab a few beers and it’s all back to Jed’s!

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