Big Boy Blues And Green (4CD, box)
For the Unboxing Review – please watch the video above
The renowned guitarist, highly acclaimed in both blues and rock circles, found fame as one of two lead guitarists in Whitesnake (alongside Micky Moody), but by then he’d already had a solid CV, including Babe Ruth, Cozy Powell, Wild Turkey, UFO, Chick Churchill and Paice, Ashton & Lord.
During and post Whitesnake, as well as a plethora of collaborations and session work, there’s been a solid and notable solo career too. His recent works as a three piece, including Chess and Trios, have received wide praise.
This set brings together tree excellent and out-of-print solo albums, and a wonderful listen they are too. Didn’t get these albums first time round? Now’s your chance, there’s no excuse. You want blues, with tone, feeling, heart, here you are.
First up is 1994’s Green And Blues, much touted as a tribute to Peter Green, but there is an equal nod to John Mayall and Mick Taylor here too; you can see where his influences were coming from.
Hideaway is an excellent opener, some fine guitar bolstered with some rich keyboards, and there’s an element in the riff very similar to what Foghat used in their take on Sweet Home Chicago. From mid tempo blues to slow yet searing, and there’s some uptempo work in there too. Some of the work nods to a slowed down Savoy Brown, so there’s a lot of very fine work here. The use of horns gives a very fat sound, it makes the blues very very palatable. Don’t Want No Woman and If You Be My Baby are excellent, and Shake Your Money Maker has a more uptempo rock’n’roll feel.
Next up is 2003’s Big Boy Blue, originally released a 2CD (the second disc adding outtakes, alternate mixes and demos). A mix of self penned work and covers, there is a fine mix of bar room blues bolstered by a boogie rhythm and harmonica. Across the blues genre, Bernie mixes in quite a lot. From a lead slide to playing a rhythm behind the harmonica, his versatility within the remit is as strong as his guitar playing. Vocalist Marsha Raven appears on a few tracks (Downhome Blues a standout), a strong voice not too dissimilar to Baby Jean or Ruby Starr. It’s worth checking out for her tracks alone. Her sensitivity and feeling match the power.
2005 saw Big Boy Blue Live, a fine live album recorded at the Granary, complete with vocalists, horns, a solid and fat sound, an appreciative if intimate crowd. Downhome Blues opens and a good way to start any show. 3 O’Clock Blues is extended to over 11 minutes and features a couple of excellent guitar solos, and a fine saxophone solo too. The album closes with Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again – Bernie’s biggest hit. Some lovely arrangements, and guitar work too, this is an album to play beginning to end and chill out to, with a single malt or three.
Such was (still is) Bernie’s output that, at times, it was easy to miss. And sadly the live album here I did miss, so it’s great to be able to get it. Three albums that go together, as a genre, chronologically and stylistically too. The usual excellent Cherry Red packaging, clamshell, and booklet that includes notes from Bernie.
No extras, but a fine fine collection and a great opportunity to plug a gap or two. Love it.
Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine