COLDHARBOUR REVIEWS

“It’s brilliant!!!!! Sometimes kind of Sting meets Buddy Holly, sometimes just funky and soulful. Always engaging and masterfully performed.” 

Reviewers: Courtney Ferguson, bardalisa.com, Nevada City, CA, US

“Reminiscent of Bill Withers, shades of Van Morrison and David Knopfler in there too.” 

Penny Griffiths, The Stables Theatre Ltd., Milton Keynes

BLACK DOG BOOGIE REVIEW

“Guitarist/singer Dave Thomas is not a name I’m familiar with although he has been around the UK blues scene for years.  With a few notable exceptions Brit blues leaves me cold, it usually consists of the ten minute guitar solo variety played by a posturing axeman adopting the stance (knees slightly bent, leaning backwards and toting a Les Paul).

I’m pleased to report that Dave Thomas is a real breath of fresh air.  Recorded live at Norwich Arts Centre (the audience are quiet though!) he plays ‘real’ blues numbers (including covers of songs by Otis Spann, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, B.B. King and others) with respect and obvious love for the tradition.  Guitar solos are kept concise with no rock outbursts and he has in his band a superb pianist called James Goodwin who’s as good as anybody I’ve heard on the UK scene.

Highlights are a superb vocal ad piano take on “It Must Have Been The Devil”, a B.B.styled ‘It’s Mh Own Fault’ and an excellent reading of Doctor Clayton’s ‘Hold That Train Conductor’.

As you can see, I liked this CD a lot, strongly recommended to anyone interested in checking out one of the best outfits on the British scene.”

Reviewer: Phil Wight (Blues & Rhythm Magazine Issue 203)

BLUES FOR OTIS REVIEW

“Hot on the heels of the superb ‘Black Dog Boogie” album by the Dave Thomas Band (see review in B&R 203) comes this vocal (with occasional harp) and piano album from Thomas and Goodwin.  Subtitled ‘A Tribute To Otis Spann’, it consists of fourteen songs penned by or recorded by Spann.

As good a singer as Dave Thomas is, it’s definitely pianist James Goodwin who is the star here.

His two-fisted piano work is quite outstanding throughout; whether it’s on a slow blues (Roosevelt Sykes ‘West Heena Blues’ or Jimmy Oden’s ‘Going Down Slow’) or up-tempo numbers (Spann’s own composition ‘It Must Have Been The Devil’ or Memphis Slim’s old warhorse ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’.

However, anyone needing any more convincing should give a listen to Thomas and Goodwin’s reading of Jimmy Cotton’s ‘Cotton Crop Blues’ or Spann’s ‘Good Morning Mr Blues’, Goodwin’s piano playing is a joy to behold.  This CD definitely makes it into my top ten for 2005 and it’s going to take something special to oust it, strongly recommended to blues piano fans everywhere.”

Reviewer: Phil Wight (Blues & Rhythm Magazine Issue 204)

BLACK DOG BOOGIE and BLUES FOR OTIS

Fans of the blues like us frequently have to address the problem of cover versions. Of what value are they?  Indeed, I once had a dispute with a Guardian critic on this very subject.  Apparently, Buddy Guy’s propensity to perform the work of others disqualified him from entry into the top string of blues performers.  This inspired me to call the reviewer a myopic philistine.  Well, it didn’t, but I wish it had …

Listening to Dave Thomas forces one to confront this subject afresh (or perhaps that should read a-reheated).  His songs aren’t original, indeed not even the interpretations are original, but they sure taste good.  But how good?

Playing BB King note-for-note guarantees you’re going to sound good but you’re still a cheap knock-off.  At the same time, however, you can’t exactly turn your nose up at someone who can play The King of the Blues note-for-note particularly when your head is enthusiastically rocking back and forth.

So perhaps I shoud stop worrying about the significance of the cover version and instead reveal whether or not these releases merit your attention.

Both albums are entirely composed while standing on the shoulders of giants. Regardless, they don’t simply merit your attention, they positively command it and from a great height at that. 

Pianist, James Goodwin provides the alcohol in this blue cocktail.  And a heady cocktail it is too.

Blues in Britain Magazine

SHOTGUN BLUES REVIEWS

“The full boogie treatment a la John Lee Hooker’

‘…..a powerful fusion of funk, soul and blues.”

Reviewer: Blueprint magazine (now known as ‘Blues In Britain)

QUOTES

“Your voice and phrasing remind me of Roben Ford”

Paul @ The Lion, Teddington, 6th January 2007

“I think we can bring back the sound of the 50’s when the blues were played with a lot of feeling.”

Wallace Coleman, 11th April 2006

Some really nice playing on there, and a lovely poignant “feel” that’s miles removed from all that “turn it up to eleven” power blues that we hear so much of.”  (Black Dog Boogie)

Mike Flowerday, 6th April 2006

“It was a pleasure to have you come up and sing on the set – really enjoyed it.  I have listened to your CD “Black Dog Boogie” and the reason I wanted your e-mail address was so that I could tell you that your CD is as good as or better than anything issued in the USA. Your piano player is outstanding.  Your guitar playing is superb.  I wish I had guys like you to back me.  There aren’t too many guys today interested in traditional style blues anymore – especially from the 50’s”

Wallace Coleman, 28th March 2006

“The album was a refreshing change from the usual guitar-based offerings – nice to have the piano get equal space to shine.  Dave also has one of those voices that is easy to listen to and he doesn’t try to be Paul Rodgers or Otis Redding.”  (Black Dog Boogie)

Gary Hearn, Fen Radio, 6th April 2006

Reflections On A Life

“Third album from 1971 by this highly regarded but woefully ignored fine UK progressive band.  Elements of Moody Blues or Barclay James Harvest could be gleaned from this album, but it’s their own distinctive sound that shines through with those unique wavering vocals. A lost classic …”

Freak Emporium

“Today all of the band’s releases are expensive highly sought after collectors items, not just because of their rarity but because they contain some of the late 60s/early 70s finest progressive rock.  However, the whereabouts of the various members of Blonde On Blonde remain something of a mystery thought it is generally assumed that following the demise of the band in early 1972, none of them pursued careers in music.”

Mark Brennan Lost-In-Tyme

Rebirth

“Gareth Johnson’s sitar styled – crunching leadbreaks are phenomenal as he makes love to the instrumental “Colour Questions”, the opus Rebirth or exquisite “November”, a memory of the Forest of Dean.  Note the urgency as he wages war with drummer Leslie Hicks on “Broken Hours”, the first song he ever wrote.  David Thomas has a vox of heaven towering like a God as he presides over “Heart Without A Home” keeping his stance aloof and superior as he intertwines amongst the fuzz rages.  “Time Is Passing” is beautiful and stirs as it brings out the sensitive depth of Dave Thomas. Supporting The Doors and Hendrix the group never failed to impress …”

Shiloh Noone – Hippy Land, Hip Publishing, 2007

“Highly collectible and best second album from this excellent late 60s Welsh progressive/ psychedelic rock band.  Released in 1970 it’s a beautifully constructed release with a distinctive vocal  style.  The song material is not only wonderfully melodic but is mysterious and otherworldly … crossing the divide between 60s psych and prog.”

Freak Emporium

Rebirth

“In the role of lead vocalist (he also picked up a large slice of the writing chores), Dave Thomas was considerably more talented than his predecessor Ralph Denyer.  The extra firepower provided by Thomas’ versatile chops was apparent in the form of a tougher, rock orientated sound.  Unlike the debut, their sophomore release never saw an American release.”

“B”

Contrasts

“The debut album by this UK band was issued in 1969 and is an undiscovered gem of late 60s progressive pop/psych.”

“One of the most amazing cover versions of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby”

“In spite of the unoriginal name (they apparenty borrowed it from Dylan’s 1965 album), this short-lived and little known Welsh outfit stands as one of my favourite ‘unknown’ bands.  Even though they enjoyed strong reviews from music critics and achieved massive exposure playing before gigantic crowds at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival (coincidentally headined by Dylan), they never managed to generate much in the way of UK sales and did even less in the States.  Best of all their three albums sported a tremendously talented guitarist in Gareth Johnson.”

“B”