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TIM HAIN Bleggae Note NCD 1015 2 (2007)

Tim Hain

Coming at you with a new take on both reggae and the blues, namely 'Bleggae', Tim Hain has set his sights high with a crossover album that features a handful of magical moments and a few fillers. But it is one thing to come up with a new musical concept and quite another to be able to write a dozen in the genre.

In the event he's not far off the mark as at least half of the songs are more than worthy of note with the very funky extended jam of 'That's What the Blues Is All About' being a stand out track. Significantly perhaps, the latter features barely any semblance of reggae beats relying on a post Jamie Nolen (James Browns funky guitarist) signature guitar riff.

Cleverer still, Tim references some of his musical influences, including Tony Joe White who would have been proud of this track.

But it's on the reggae input that we should focus, with Tim working up some fine bluesy grooves over a subtle reggae back beat. Things work best on his show stopping cover of Hendrix's 'Wind Cries Mary', if only because the dub beats sound an integral part of the song rather than an adjunct as on some of the other efforts.

On other occasions Tim's white boy Bleggae has a commercial bent with the ballad 'If I Ever Get Home' being the kind of song that UB40's Ali Campbell might consider, though it's doubtful he would have the benefit of such a love of slide playing.

On 'Everybody's Talking To Themselves' Tim jettisons the humour for the role of socially concerned narrator, and as with the album as whole he is trying to be all things to all people.

If you can overcome the two tracks that top and tail this album - a languid 'Need Your Love So Bad', and a thinly reworked 'One Man Went to Mow' reggae style - then there is much about 'Bleggae' that is worth investigating. On that basis 'Bleggae' just about warrants four stars.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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