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Azan (AZAN112)

Leonard Cohen, Lifetime Money Back Guarantee, I Can't Forget About You, She Gets Naked For A Living, Double Whammy!!, Stop Dragging Me Back, Evil Twist, Black Sambuca, Insanely Happy, Hey Funky!

I have to admit to not having a good feeling about this when it first crossed my radar. The name Big Boy Bloater did not engender any great confidence and the pre-publicity was giving the impression of a gruff-voiced singer somewhere between Seasick Steve and Tom Waits. Much as I love Tom Waits, comparisons to his vocal style usually translates in my head as 'so the fella ain't a singer, then!'

Well, what we have here is a salutary lesson in never rushing to conclusions. While still not sold on the Big Boy Bloater name, the voice is just great and, what's more, the whole darned CD is just peachy. The songs are varied and always interesting, the production is crisp and the band are lean, disciplined and always inventive.

While not a conventional R&B band, there are some storming R&B numbers among the ten tracks. I particularly like Double Whammy, a dance craze number that has great stinging licks and extended solos that demonstrates just how well Mr Bloater can play. There is also a driving instrumental, Black Sambuca, that sounds like a superior British blues band from the mid-60s in full flow in a smoky London nightclub, with guitar riffing and period-perfect organ to hammer home the vibe.

Another highlight, is the atmosphere-setting opener of Leonard Cohen. This delivers a full throttle rocker that is simply thrilling but just how and where ‘Laughing Len' is the subject matter remains a mystery. Then there is the hypnotic near-Mississippi hill country blues patterns that dominates Stop Dragging Me Back and Hey Funky, the closing track that demonstrates a rare ability to throw in hooks into a song that  otherwise just wants to rock. You also get a nice ska lilt on the breezy Insanely Happy.

I could go on but, suffice to say, this is one of the most enjoyable and exciting albums I have heard in a while, with ten varied tracks and not a dud among them.

(And if you do like The World Explained, see also the band's 2011 album, simply entitled Big Boy Bloater & The Limits - and its just as good!  Ask for AZAN069).


Review Date: October 2012

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