LESLIE WEST 'Got Blooze' Provogue PRD 7156 (2005)
This album should have been titled ‘Sledgehammer Blues', or perhaps as Leslie puts is 'blooze'. For the Meister of power riffs and America’s late 60’s answer to Cream continues to plough his own uncompromising Rock blues furrow, adding some big toned notes and a new stylistic departure with some mesmerising slide in the front of the mix.
So let it be said at the outset, Cream inspired Rock Blues yes, and any semblance of blues for the purist no.
And yet, if you accept Leslie on his own terms - all bluster and controlled power - then 'Got Blooze' has much to recommend. Leslie’s own performance on guitar and vocals along side the busy rhythm section of exiled British blues veteran drummer Aynsley Dunbar and Vanilla Fudge bass man Tom Bogert, is a tour de force. The set list appears to be a random selection of unrelated blues influenced efforts, probably brought together because Les likes them. Aside from Free’s 'Walk In My Shadow', and the closing solo interpretation of 'Heartbreak Hotel', there’s not much originality of choice, but hell, there is some firing playing, and a fierce vocal attack.
On the opener 'Baby Please Don’t Go', Leslie sets out his stall with a raucous opening, underpinned by a thunderous rhythm track over which he adds both impressive slide and big notes. Things get unimaginably heavier on 'Third Degree', but the album retains a sense of balance with a nice use of dynamics on 'I Can’t Quit You'. There’s also an innovative, if not curious acoustic opening and coda on 'House of the Rising Sun'. It’s a nice touch, even if it does rob the song of its original climactic outro and fade.
The closest this album actually gets to blues is with Leslie offering some real feel in his solo’s on 'The Sky is Crying' as the whole band eases into a more laid back mode; and there’s a similar sense of refined production. And breathing space on the echo reverb friendly 'The Thrill is Gone'.
Overall this is a surprisingly good album, probably his best for a couple of decades. Leslie has never been a strong song writer, but as this album shows he remains a fiery player who continues to set the standards for all hard rock growlers, even when they play 'The Blooze'
Review by Pete Feenstra
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