A Shot of Blues: Issue 80, August 1995

A Shot of Blues: August 1995


Dave Hole
Steel On Steel
Alligator ALCD 4832

Dave Hole, “Steel on Steel”

Alligator records handles some of the hottest blues musicians in the country, period. Dave Hole is the only foreign artist on their “Genuine Houserockin’ Music” list, and he definitely belongs there. Raised Down Under (i.e.-Australia, for those of you who are clueless) this guy sounds like he spent about a hundred years living in Mississippi or Alabama., His style of slide guitar is as different as the Southern Hemisphere’s weather patterns are from the North. He plays over the top of the neck, which is no small feat, as anyone who has tried playing slide will tell you. And the man is NOT SLOPPY—he hits every note as surely as the IRS hits at tax time, with all the bite and sting of that same government agency. His vocals resonate with the blues, and his band follows with the steadfastness of a southern coonhound. These boys are as blue as it gets.


Slide lovers will know they are-in the right place from the first notes of “Wildfire,” and rockin’ blues lovers will know they’re in for a hot time as the tune hits its stride a few chords later. The band jams through the rocking “Quicksand” into the very slippery slow slide blues of “Counting My Regrets,” getting right back to the driving blues of “Killing Bite.” “Take Me To Chicago” does just that, and you will want to stay for the jive beat of “I Won’t Leave.” “Worry” could easily fit into any rocking Texan-blues set, as could the slower “I Found Love” and the pounding “Going Down.” Robert Johnson would have been comfortable as could be playing “One Last Breath,” a cool slow slide blues tune that makes it hard to believe Dave Hole is not from the Delta. “Hook, Line & Sinker” slides and rocks true and steady, while “Cold Rain” picks up with a punchy B.B. King-type beat and feel. But Hole does not imitate the King; he definitely has his own hot, particular style. The final tune on the disk “Blues Will Call Your Name!’ shows this through and through.


This is the type of disk that blues lovers, especially slide-guitar lovers, need these days. Dave Hole is tight, hot, and slippery, like “Steel On Steel” should be. Get this disk and play it loud, over and over and over. 


Ian Moore
Modernday Folklore
Capricorn 42038-2

Ian Moore, “Modernday Forklore”

The first track of Ian Moore’s new CD Modernday Folklore “Muddy Jesus” hits the ground running hard, setting the stage for the roller coaster of varied tunes on the disk. It’s damn good to see a hot guitar player/singer/songwriter who is not content to just sit on his ass after one fantastic disk (Ian Moore #42018). Moore went on the road, writing most of these new songs while he was out doing gigs. Then he and his gang (Bukka Allen on keyboards, Chris White on bass, Michael Villegas on drums, and producer Mark Howard) moved into a warehouse in San Francisco and went to work on Modernday Folklore. And I’d just like to say: Thanks, Ian. This is great music.


The pacing on the disk is perfect. For those of you who hit “shuffle” on your CD players: DON’T. Take the time to listen to the whole-disk as one piece. Moore and his band go from the rocking blues of “Muddy Jesus” into the light, somewhat funky blues of, “Society”, to the slow, almost Celtic-infused subtle blues of “Today,” to the clean acoustic picking of “Daggers,” and then back into screaming electric maximum R&B cut “Bar Line 99.” Throughout, the band is tight and well produced, but not dry; these guys breathe life into every tune. The lyrics are intelligent and worth listening to, and Moore’s vocal style complements them perfectly. For those of you raised on screaming banshees and advertisers rip-off mamby-pamby rhyming MTV crapola, listen up: once upon a time, songs actually have both musical structure and substantial lyrical content. Thanks to Ian Moore, the tradition of the songwriter/musician lives on.


From “Bar Line 99,” the band slows it down with “Dandelion” and the haunting “Lie.” which I believe is one of the best tunes on the whole disk, layered with bass and guitar riffs that weave together, tighter and tighter, up to the chorus, bound by the drums, vocals, and keyboards, only to be released on their own into the next verse where the weaving begins again. “Train Tracks” blasts off like a train driven by Jimi Hendrix, hauling ass ‘till the band turns light again with “Monday Afternoon.” Traditional blues lovers will dig “You’ll Be Gone,” my favorite tune on the disk, which really shows Moore’s roots in the blues. “Stain” follows, jammin’ and jivin’ with a funky beat, almost forcing you to move along with the beat. They slow it down again with “Morning Song,” which like “Today” hints of an Irish or Celtic-laced blues beat. The disk wraps up with the acoustic picking and subtle vocal harmonies of “Home,” a clean tune reminiscent of the purity of Lennon & McCartney on The Beatles’ White Album.


Individually, each song on this disk is great; as a whole, the project is even better. Buy this disk and listen to it. I mean, really listen to it. Pay attention and hear just how diverse, intelligent, and deliberate music can be.


Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Interview with X: July 1995
The Best Day of My Whole Life