Tony Stevens

Don't Blame Me

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Since the late '60s, Tony Stevens has been an integral part of the rock world, first with Savoy Brown and then Foghat. However, so group orientated has the bassist been that it took until 1998 for Stevens to release a solo album. Don't Blame Me reunites the artist with members of two of his post-Foghat bands -- Midnight Flyer's Anthony Glynne, and Roger Chapman's Geoff Whitehorn and Nick Pentelow. The set itself features a trio of covers and a couple of co-written numbers, with Stevens composing the bulk of the set. Anyone hoping the bassist might revisit the purer blues upon which he first rode to fame are bound for disappointment, with the barrelling R&B that fires up both "Run to the River" and the driving "Long Way to Go," and the funk-fueled "Heavy Weather" and "All I Want" the closest he gets. But eclecticism is the order of the day. The dreamy "In My Eyes" folds in lovely acoustic guitar and jazzy ersatz trumpet, "Over and Over" boasts a twangy Southern rock sound, while the glorious "Good Night the Sun" is built around soaring keyboards and lead guitar, the perfect stadium swaying number. However much of the album's exciting diversity is veiled by the arrangements, the set's slick, clean production, and the many clubby accents bubbling up throughout, Stevens now calls Ibiza home, which probably explains all of the above. Far from modernizing the music, though, it seriously dates it, infusing Don't Blame Me in an '80s disco-crossover sound. Well, retro is in, the '80s are back, and rock never went away, so that may all be a plus. Beyond the production and arrangements, Stevens' songwriting shines, with all his compositions featuring strong melodies and straight to the point lyrics. The musicianship is superb, and the unassuming Stevens, who co-arranged and co-produced the set, never highlights himself but prefers to showcase everyone's efforts. In the Costa de Bravo discos, this could be a winner, while there's more enough stellar axe work to pull in the rock punters as well.

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