Friday, February 12, 2021

The BluesBones - Live On Stage

Where to begin?  Well, why not Belgium, since that’s where The BluesBones hail from?  And while my knowledge of the Belgian music scene wouldn’t fill the back of a postage stamp, I’m hazarding a guess that these guys are among the country’s prime exponents of blues-based tunage, having won the Belgian Blues Challenge in 2016 and come second in the European event the following year.
But this is not a purist blues band.  The BluesBones have a distinctive sound that carries a fair amount of heft.  Right at the start of this live album, on ‘Find My Way Out’, they crank out a surging riff with a whiplash end to it, and the Jon Lord-ish power of Edwin Risbourg’s Hammond organ puts me in mind of Deep Purple.  Sort of.  Well, not really.  For one thing, singer Nico De
"Psst, Nico - what song is this again?"
Cock doesn’t have either the raunch and range of Ian Gillan or the soulfulness of prime Coverdale – but he still has a rich, assertive voice.  And though Purple comparisons float to the surface again here and there as the set progresses, the Bluesbones gang explore some different avenues.
‘Find My Way Out’ does make it clear that they’re a tight outfit though, capable of pulling off a clever, stop-start, drum break fuelled ending with ease.  And the following ‘The End’ shows that they can put together an impressive arrangement for something looser too.  Kicking off with rubberband-like bass from Geert Boeckx, it’s cool and steady, with chiming guitar and twirls or organ, while drummer Jens Roelandt relaxes behind the beat.
The twelve tracks on offer are a bit short of convincing hooks, though the songs are generally well-constructed.  But ‘Romance For Rent’ and ‘Psycho Mind’ both stand out as having that little bit extra.  The former is uptempo, with an appealing vibe like the theme to some Sixties TV show – Man In A Suitcase maybe – and a tense, ascending riff, and a typically impressive organ solo from Risbourg.  The riff on ‘Psycho Mind’ is tasty too, more helter skelter, and if they never really whack things into top gear they still generate satisfying momentum, with a thumping rhythm section and oomph from Paglia too while Risbourg is solo-ing.  ‘Going Down’ – no, not that one – may not be the catchiest, but it is atmospheric.  A mid-paced grind with a simple slide riff, it’s another impressive arrangement, and Paglia puts the icing on the cake with an eerie slide solo – the phrase danse macabre springs to mind.
De Cock gets more soulful on the slow and pulsing ‘Betrayal’, on which Risbourg delivers a solo with plenty of light and shade, and the vocals are also the main focus on the following ‘Sealed Souls’, an even slower and moodier affair with a poetic lyric about warfare and loss, that rouses itself in the middle, before falling away again for a quiet, pinpricking Paglia guitar solo.  It’s one of several tracks of seven minutes or more – they do like to spread themselves – but they make good use of the time here.
The uptempo rocker ‘Cruisin’’ has a slightly naff lyric about hunting down “baby” who has nicked the hero’s car and guitar, but it’s redeemed by some humorous musical twists and turns that carry echoes of Purple playfulness.  And Paglia brings the 11-minute long closer ‘Whisky Drinking Woman’ to life with a bluesy solo incorporating some hummingbird-like fluttering, and both soulful and playful passages before the song claws its way to a crescendo, with Boeckx adding some ear-catching bass lines.
To be sure, the songs could be stronger at times.  But the BluesBones are still proper musos who know what they’re about, and if you fancy a muscular blues-rock sound that’s bit of a throwback to the late 60s/early 70s, then Live On Stage could be just the ticket.
Live On Stage is available now, and can be ordered here

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