Derek Holt and Richard Jones are founder members of the Climax Blues Band and their musical history goes back to 1968 but it has to be said that this album has far more to do with their musical experience than it does a Blues/Rock band. The album opens with a deeply atmospheric number ‘Waiting For Payday’, full of jazzy horns and a samba rhythm, conjuring dark streets and dimly lit back alley bars as they bemoan the lack of cash until payday/playday. Musically as far from the Blues as you can get but subject matter is right on the marks, especially in 2022. The atmospheric feel continues through the album with soft, melodic vocals and suitably soft backing. The songs range through the aforementioned ‘Waiting For Payday’ through ‘Time’s Not On Our Side’ which takes a look at climate change and the damage we are doing to our home, on to ‘Shadowman’ which was originally written for Climax Blues Band but never used – very dark and nightmarish and with a brilliantly sleazy saxophone in the back. The album closer is a delightful love song that have a vocal that is reminiscent of Paul McCartney and a lovely accordion backing that builds into a full on Beatles-style crescendo. All of the songs have their own identity and you really can see/hear the time that these songs have been gestating but it does mean that a few – such as ‘Playing For Love’ – are a little dated but still not bad for that. Influences abound and there are echoes of the Beatles, Hollies and even Crosby Stills & Nash but in today’s world they have a very individual voice – very definitely making their own statement. Unusually, the music is good enough that you could put it on as background music but actually listening reveals a wealth of musical ability and 10 songs written by Holt & Jones that are individual, thought-provoking and could only have been made by artists who have been around and done it all.
Blues In Britain magazine
Singer, guitarist and bassist Derek Holt and keyboards player, singer and multi-instrumentalist (especially accordion) Richard Jones are former members of The Climax Blues Band, an outfit from the English midlands, who graduated from playing the blues in the 60s to genuine international rock superstardom in the 70s and beyond. This new set reflects their approach, from the American-styled rock of the opening ‘Playing For Love’ (with some excellent autobiographical lyrics!) and the jazz-tinged ‘Waiting For Payday’ to blues tinges like the slide guitar introduction to the title track, the appropriately lazy-sounding blues of ‘Sleepy Head’ and the somewhat rather tougher modified blues of the closing ‘Stormy Waters’. There is some fine Peter Green styled guitar playing on the warning about climate change that is ‘Time’s Not On Our Side’. Overall,this is a rather nice, if rock-styled set showing many stages of the band’s evolution.
Blues In Britain magazine
Earlier this year Robert Forster produced a book on the history of The Climax Blues Band, one I had the pleasure of reviewing. Now we have a brand new album by two original members of the band, Derek Holt and Richard Jones. Richard left the band in 1977 but Derek stayed for another four albums and helped create the book as well. The pair have been friends since their Stafford primary school days and knowing each other so well shows throughout this very good new album.The title song 'Shadow Man' was written for Climax's 1976 hit album, Gold Plated but has never appeared on any album until now and hearing it you wonder why as it's a really great song. With the biography, they felt it was at last time people heard it, and it doesn't sound remotely dated all these years on. They made a brand new recording, and then decided to go on and record a full album of all original compositions. They use their influences over all the years of playing with material ranging from the blues to The Beatles. It was recorded both in London and Mallorca, with the duo playing everything, apart from some sax from Richard Martin and a track featuring former Smokie drummer, Pete Spencer. A single from the album, 'Time's Not On Our Side', is a modern day blues about climate change and tackling some of the world's problems. But it's not by any means a protest album, ranging from more laid back material to the blues sounding 'Stormy Waters', along with titles such as 'I Gave All My Money Away', 'I'm Crying', 'Sleepy Head' and 'Come Over With A Kiss'. There's a maturity here and some excellent playing throughout. but most of all it's an album that reflects life in many ways, by two artists who know how to write a good song and how to produce an album that many will enjoy!
Founder members of The Climax Blues Band, Derek Holt and Richard Jones, have known each other since primary school and their musical association, which started through local bands and led to them becoming members of The Climax Chicago Blues Band, continued until 1977 when Richard left the band, now known as The Climax Blues Band. After the band’s biography came out in late 2020 the pair decided to work on a new version of the song Shadow Man, an unused track on The Climax Blues Band’s 1976 album ‘Gold Plated’. Those sessions grew and ultimately became this new album of 10 original songs. They open with Playing For Love, an up-tempo tale of growing up in a band. It’s got a happy feel to it and keys have a big input as does guitar. The saxophone on Waiting For Pay Day makes for a Jazz Blues feel. It’s slow and rhythmic with some South American vibes helping the overall feel of gentle relaxation. The aforementioned Shadowman is given a moody opening and is a Blues based, slow acoustic Rock. Sax and slide guitar add to the atmosphere as it lumbers along. The vocal is probably a bit too clean for the track although it is one of the best on offer. There are elements of Jazz and Prog Rock in there if you listen hard enough and that makes for a good mix. I Gave All My Money Away is a short tale of giving it all up in the music business set to a Caribbean feel and fronted with a vulnerable vocal and things start to take an upturn with the acoustic led I’m Crying, a strong Soft Rock with another of the best vocals.
Come Over With A Kiss, which comes over as sentimental with a cracked, often stretched vocal and accordion for most part, isn’t the best track on the album and is so far away from the classic hit, ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’, which they co-wrote. It does build and ends better than it started with guitar and pronounced vocal coming more to the fore. On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is light and airy with the rhythm section on top. Bluesy, it needs a bigger guitar solo/input than there is but having said that, it could well be the track of the album on further listening and very easy to listen to. Sleepy Head gives us some smooth, jazzy Blues Rock and they are now coming onto a game. At times it can be a bit too precise but they do produce a nice clear solo. The lead single, Time’s Not On Our Side, is atmospheric and melodic Blues Rock with a hint of the 60s about it. It’s a cautionary tale about global warming and the tough times that we find ourselves in. The main concern that I have with the album is that it is a bit too lightweight at times and the closing track, Stormy Waters, is an example of this. We get slinky sounds and other redeeming features based around Blues Rock such as the guitar hook but it does need to be a lot beefier.