The Blues Band

Greenstuff: Live at the BBC 1982

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All but one of the 15 songs were recorded in concert for the BBC on December 8, 1982 (the one remaining track, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm," was recorded on March 23, 1981 for a separate BBC broadcast). The Blues Band were, in limited respects, a big deal in Britain in this era: a blues-rock group with integrity and pedigree that had a reputation as an excellent live act. On this record, it must be said, they come across more like an above-average blues-rock bar band, one that happens to feature a singer (Paul Jones) who's much, much better than the typical bloke you'll see fronting a bunch of geezers doing Chess covers at the local pub. Did it make for a good night out? Maybe. Does it make for enlightening listening? No, to be harsh. Even if they know their chops and are enjoying what they're doing, the repertoire is stuffed with unimaginative covers of chestnuts by Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Little Walter, and the like, as well as some originals quite derivative of same. It's stating the obvious, perhaps, but Jones (and fellow ex-Manfred Manner Tom McGuinness) are not exactly stretching their creative capacities here; even their blues covers in Manfred Mann were much more exciting. And there's no excuse for Dave Kelly taking the occasional lead vocal, so inferior is he to Jones. There are some bright spots here and there -- the Jones original "I Can't Hold on Much Longer" is a decent tough blues-soul ballad, and the cover of Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" pretty heated for an overplayed standard. Overall, though, it's only fair treadmill blues-rock (accent on the blues) that makes those of us who weren't in the appreciative crowds wonder what all the fuss was about.

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