DAVE JACKSON BAND djb Big Oil Records BOR CD001 (2011)
The Dave Jackson band is a kick ass rock-blues and boogie power trio outfit that takes the music right back to its late 60's /early 70's source.
The band recalls the likes of The James Gang, Cream and inevitably Hendrix (with Trower's slight return) relying solely on an 'in the moment' jammed out style that is routed in a powerhouse rock/blues format given its shape by ten well crafted songs.
To say that 'djb' is an old school album would be to overlook the fact that a generation of live albums were slavishly doctored, overdubbed or at times wholly re-recorded. And while 'djb' has no pretence to being a live album as such, it is essentially the sum of a very exciting 'let's plug in and play' live in the studio approach.
The result is some rock solid grooves, soaring solos and occasional moments when a seat of the pants approach leads to fleeting moments of uncertainty which are quickly banished by a rock solid rhythm section.
This isn't so much a warts and all album as a band who have confidently walked into the studio and laid the core of their live set. The guitar playing has a visceral, edgy quality and the juggernaut rhythm section pushes Dave every inch of the way.
There's an inherent rawness and constant emphasis on the spontaneous that would make the likes of Hound Dog Taylor smile and contemporary outfits like The Black Keys and The White Stripes look over their shoulder.
The riff driven album lays out its raison d'etre on the opening track 'Born Again Blues Man'. It's an autobiographical song that charts Dave's own musical journey from playing jazz piano in New Orleans to becoming a heavy duty blues rocker (a de facto 'Born Again Blues Man') and sets the tone for the album both musically and lyrically.
'Done Me Wrong' on the other hand, is a heavy duty boogie with the relentless drive of ZZ Top and some suitably bluesy metaphors to fit the coruscating licks; 'Gonna find me a freight train, gonna move on down that line' Dave is a fine singer who understands the importance of phrasing, pitch tone in a band that remorselessly grinds out a series of hypnotic grooves as exemplified by 'No Pleasin' You', a song on which bassist Janet Jackson imperceptibly slips into a front line role on a ripping bass part. The material works best on the up tempo stuff with the band's wall of sound and relentless riffing evoking early Hawkwind and even Motorhead.
In contrast, they take their foot off the pedal on 'Long Enough To Sing The Blues', on a slow, almost dirgy arrangement reminiscent of Free, as the opening guitar figure and repeated verses rely heavily on the dynamics of a song that seeks its resolution through a slowly constructed solo.
'Say It' is far better and is the perfect example of a smoking rock/blues ballad benefiting from a restrained Hendrix influenced intro, with tightly compressed note clusters, a fine vocal and a lifting chorus. It all works superbly well as the band momentarily drops down allowing Dave to slip into a mesmerising solo that is shadowed by Jan Jackson consistently excellent bass playing.
'Rick's Cabaret' is a nicely judged heavy rocker that explodes into a fiery solo with the bass on this occasion surprisingly far back in the mix, while 'Gimme What I Want' is a pile driving boogie rock that sets up more splendid jamming.
And after a riff filled journey with plenty of plank spanking Dave settles for a very brief acoustic blues outro on 'The Way You Treated Me'.
Given what's gone before it's something of a tease as you anticipate a potential thunderous finale. It turns out to be the opposite, a restrained bookend to an exciting jammed out rock-blues album.