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Top Five Records

Vince Velour - The Velours

Vince 'One Note' Velour plays with 'sleazy rockin' rhythm & blues' outfit The Velours. As this top five reveals, his early love of British R&B blends now with some of the more edgy recent stylists. And that's just the haircuts.



1. Girls Go Wild - The Fabulous Thunderbirds

For me, this album did for white-boy blues what the Ramones and the Pistols did to rock and roll: Four young guys take a musical genre that has long been stale and hackneyed, and strip off all the crap. Three minute songs (some of which have no guitar solos! Wow!), humour, tattoos, and, er, turbans. For me, every single track administers a knee in the crotch to the Ferrari-driving, farmhouse-in-Surrey blues hell of the late 70s.  Musically, it also fits in the punk bracket: Jimmie Vaughan's guitar playing is somehow sloppy and lazy, yet in a knowing, deliberate sort of way. No doubt he could have played like his younger brother had he wanted to, but there's something more soulful and less flashy about this. Kim Wilson's vocals are sleazy, the harp playing just has to be heard to be believed.  And it's all topped off with one of best record sleeves I've ever seen.  

2. Hard Again - Muddy Waters

How often does someone release a "comeback" album that's somehow better than anything they released back in the day?

Johnny Winter is heavily credited for this masterpiece. He rescued Muddy from Chess, who had basically lost the plot, and got him to record a back-to-basics release for his own label, whilst being shrewd enough to resist filling it to puking point with guest musicians. Winter himself plays slide on the record, but shows real class by not overshadowing Muddy at any point.

=3. John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: Bluesbreakers/A Hard Road

Despite me not being the biggest fan of Mayall's vocals, these two records still neatly tie up everything that was great about the British blues boom. The word "Genius" is heavily overused, but these two albums each had their own guitar genius: Eric Clapton on the first, and Peter Green on the second. Sadly neither are geniuses anymore, thanks to excessive acid use by Green and excessive smug solo use by Clapton. 

Clapton was 21 when he played on Bluesbreakers, and, put simply, he's on fire. He sounds like he's holding his breath from start to finish. It's raw, exciting, and one of my favourite albums of the sixties. Soon after, Clapton realised he was "God", got pilled up and disappeared off to Greece, leaving the door open for the even younger Peter Green to step in.

A Hard Road is a very different album to Bluesbreakers, it just sounds, well, sad. Where Clapton had sounded fiery and raw, Green's playing had the soul and substance of someone who had suffered far more than a man his age could have... which is even more poignant considering how much worse things were going to get. It's completely impossible for me to pick my favourite from these two.  

5. King King - The Red Devils

The Red Devils were an American R&B five-piece, led by harpist/singer Lester Butler (who later died from either a heroin overdose or was murdered, no-one can agree). As one Amazon review reads: "This is tuff blues, not boohoo stuff."  This live album was recorded in 1992, and produced by hip-hop/metal weirdo Rick Rubin. It's incredibly rough, and slightly scary. The audience sounds like it's about to haul you outside and beat you to death with pool cues and a jack handle. The vocals are distorted and the guitars are bright. They sound like the Fabulous Thunderbirds on crack.  Which I'm guessing is probably pretty close to what they were. 

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