A new album by PHIL GAMMAGE is always cause for celebration and Adventures In Bluesland is no exception. It comes on like a lost Robert Gordon and Chris Spedding album from the moment Trying To Get To You bursts from the speakers like an old friend with Don Fiorino's lap steel often acting as the Spedding-like foil to Phil's bruised and emotional vocals. On What Tomorrow Brings they even evoke Jimmy Reed crossed with Link Wray.
Both Ain't That Something and Lay Me Down Low slow the tempo like they are sitting on a porch in Louisiana in the stifling heat barely able to play any quicker while Phil shares the reasons for just how blue he's feeling rather than being up in New York with long-time collaborator Kevin Tooley in the producer's chair and on drums.
I love the lazy and somewhat hazy version of the old murder ballad In The Pines which has bags more feel than most of the versions I've heard of this classic. They sound like they have just stepped out of one of Alan Lomax's parties and found a song they have to record. On Help Me the playing is brilliantly restrained with the vocals just hinting at the threats in the lyrics. La Grange sees them bringing the boogie back home with the guitars sounding more Spedding-esque than ZZ Top-style torpor.
Kills Me When You're Gone is a cooking blues song for a love that has gone but might still be kept. Phil is begging and pleading her never to leave him. Hanging On To You continues his pleading to his love and gives his thanks that she waited while he was in the big house with some slide guitar that plays like tears rolling down his face as he asks for forgiveness.
They play Wayfaring Stranger like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee have met up at the crossroads with Robert Gordon; a really cool version of this old staple. It's hard to believe that See How We Roll is a new song and not 60 or 70 years old; another battered and bruised blues song with Phil's vocals recorded in some sort of echo chamber of a room sounding richly fulfilling.
I love Phil's version of Baby, Let Me Follow You Down. It sounds like they've turned the Bowery into the bayou for it: simply gorgeous. The LP closes with Big Daddy Reefer: all jump jive slowed to a walking blues that just makes me want to smoke that big daddy reefer and listen to this album again and again as then everything will be all right.
This album needs to be heard and is a great slice of smoldering blues that occasionally rock just a little bit. another great release from the ever reliable World Wide Vibe records: World Wide Vibe Records online