Around and around and around we go, as Chuck Berry said and numerous others repeated. It’s a line that comes to mind listening this debut EP by The Jupiter Blues, a neat and energetic four song outing that’s pretty straightforward in its own terms. But it still prompts me to reflect a bit on how twists on the blues can overlap, loop around and intermingle. But we’ll get to that later.
Opening track ‘Stinging’ kicks off with a very Keef-like choppy riff. Augmented by some bar room piano, and twangy licks from guitarist Chris Mitchell, while singer Dale Orenda weighs in with a decent melody, it conjures up some good ol’ boy Southern rock’n’roll. Well, a bit, given that this four-piece hail from the North-West of England. In any event it makes for an enjoyable enough first acquaintance, with an appealing coda that mixes in some vocal
|The Jupiter Blues take "Get down!" literally|
They enter the fray from a slightly different angle on ‘Six Foot Bulldog’, with a twiddly, Celtic-sounding riff that brings to mind Rory Gallagher. Ross Brown’s drum sound could be stronger, but he still makes a busy contribution to an interesting arrangement, while his rhythm section partner Rick Davies (also responsible for the keys) comes to the fore with a gripping set of bass line variations. Mitchell adds a fiery solo that fits the mood, while Orenda’s vocals take on a raw and rocking tone. All in all, the bulldog has a big bark.
The pick of this four track bunch though, is ‘While The Sun’. Opening with another Rory-esque urgent riff anchored by another bout of excellent bass from Davies, it mixes up slow and fast sections to good effect, dropping into a dreamy chorus and a bridge with acoustic strumming rounding out the sound. I could swear I hear a bow being drawn over a fiddle here and there as well, but as there’s nothing of the kind credited I guess it’s a clever use of either keys or guitar. With Orenda hollering away to good effect, a rippling, Southern-style solo, and multiple layers of sound beefing up the outro, it’s a well-structured effort that lives up to its ambition. A bit ragged around the edges maybe, but still impressive.
Closing track ‘Little Moon’ is a bit of acoustic Stonesiness that comes as something of a calm after the storm. Orenda doesn’t try to ham it up with Jagger’s affected country twang, but he doesn’t quite find his own voice either for this slight but sensitive song. It still works, but there’s room for improvement.
So what was all that about the twists and turns of blues evolution? Well, there’s a Black Crowes-ish Southern rock slant to The Jupiter Blues, and it seems to me that Southern rock evolved not just out of Delta blues and R’n’B, but out of the country sounds of the South. Country music, in turn, originated in large measure from Scotland and Ireland – and bizarrely, melded it with a black instrument, the banjo. And while for all I know The Jupiter Blues have no interest in Rory Gallagher, Rory inserted Celtic sounds into blues rock – from the source, not second or third hand. And if Southern rock bands copped an earful of the rocked up version of R’n’B created by the Stones, as time went by the Stones also twanged their way into country territory.
And so on, and so on, around and around. The blues, in its pure form, may be a fairly constrained form. But it evolves, it mutates, it survives. None of which, I imagine, occurred to The Jupiter Blues when they recorded this EP. But they’ve still captured the spirit pretty well.