This album was the second by Blonde On Blonde, but the first on which Dave Thomas was the vocalist. It was released in 1970. All the tracks were penned by members of the band, chiefly Dave Thomas and Gareth Johnson. Now it is regarded as Blonde On Blonde’s best album and a seminal example of early progressive rock. Rebirth has recently been remastered and released on the Esoteric label.
REFLECTIONS ON A LIFE
Again most of the tracks on this, the third Blonde On Blonde album, were written by Dave Thomas and Gareth Johnson, and covered a wide range of themes from incest to murder! Its dark, daring humour was probably a step too far ahead of the times in 1971, but now it has become a collector’s item and has also been released by Esoteric.
During the 1980’s and early 1990’s Dave’s London blues band was called The Diplomatics. Dave fronted the band on vocals and guitar. Geoff “The Professor” Peel was on lead guitar. On bass were Spy Austin, who had played with Desmond Dekker and the Aces, and, later, Charlie McCracken who had played with Rory Gallagher’s ‘Taste’. Drum duties were assigned to some of the best drummers in London at the time including Justin Hildreth who had played with Joan Armatrading.
The Diplomatics recorded one great album which received warm reviews. It was called ‘Shotgun Blues’.
In 1996 Dave Thomas was invited to play his version of “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” (the first track) for Paul McCartney. The experience acted as a catalyst for “Coldharbour”, his first solo album. Dave began his professional career as a mere slip of a boy of 18 with progressive rock band Blonde On Blonde. Dave toured and recorded with Blonde On Blonde for three years. When Tin Pan Alley struck back against experimental music Dave decided to return to his roots in the blues playing in pubs and clubs all over the UK and in the USA. All this time Dave kept on writing – songs from experience, songs from the heart! Some of the songs on the album were written when Blonde On Blonde were still gigging regularly, but most are from much later. There is a direct continuity, however, but while Blonde On Blonde experimented with a mixture of acoustic and electric instruments you will discover a much more sophisticated synthesis of rock, jazz, blues and folk influences in Coldharbour. The mix of acoustic and electric sounds are still there, underpinning Dave’s distinctive voice.
BLUES FOR OTIS
Having completed his first solo album, a project that took more than 15 years, Dave decided it was time to step back into the blues. The result was this album which was recorded on an old reel-to-reel tape at home on Dave’s country farmhouse in Norfolk. He invited James Goodwin, an exceptionally talented blues piano player, to help. Most of the songs were written by Otis Spann (for many years the piano paying genius with Muddy Waters’ band). He had been an early inspiration to Dave with his unique playing and singing style – real gospel-infused blues coming direct from the soul of the man. Blues still steeped in church gospel. Blues that moves you. It took just one day to record. A room full of blues. Dave’s way of saying thank you to Otis Spann; to Mose Allison; to James Cotton and all the other great blues players who shaped his life and music.
BLACK DOG BOOGIE
Black Dog Boogie was recorded live in concert at The Norwich Arts Centre. At the time The Dave Thomas Band was made up of Dave on vocals and guitar, James Goodwin on piano, Steve Jinks on bass and Jason on drums.
Dave Thomas met Wallace Coleman early in 2006 when Wallace was performing for Shake Down Blues in the UK. Dave joined Wallace on stage at a Shake Down concert to sing some Little Walter classics. The chemistry was immediate. It was clear that they both shared the same love and instinctive understanding of traditional blues. An instant empathy spanning the Atlantic! There was a bond on a personal level too. Wallace invited Dave to Cleveland, Ohio where Dave was privileged to meet Wallace’s mentor Robert Jr Lockwood and other members of his band. While in Cleveland Dave guested with Wallace Coleman’s fine band and the Lockwood Allstars. Dave and Wallace were playing some blues on the front porch just before Dave flew back to the UK. It was right then and there that they decided to record an album together. Dave returned to Cleveland in November 2006 to record with Wallace. Sadly this coincided with Robert Jr Lockwood’s last illness and passing. Repossession Blues is dedicated to the great man’s memory.
SharBaby and Dave Thomas first met when they worked together in the UK doing shows for Gerard Homan’s Shake Down Blues promotions in 2009. In 2010 and in 2012 they cemented their musical relationship working together again at blues festivals in the UK. In 2012 SharBaby won in no less than three categories in the Hollywood Indie Blues Awards. A little later she was fully inducted in the American Blues Hall of Fame: a high honour indeed but one fully deserved by this real-deal country blues artist. Before SharBaby returned to her home in Birmingham, Alabama, she recorded enough tracks to make this album. Dave was left with the job of completing the process, adding all the instrumentation with some help from other members of The Dave Thomas Blues Band. This album JUKE is the result. Juke – a blues stew made with quality ingredients from the USA and the UK. Real blues made with love! We hope you ENJOY!!
LIVE AT THE FAT CAT
This album was recorded live at the Fat Cat Brewery Tap, a great little pub venue in Norwich, a city alive with music. The place was packed and it felt even more intimate with the recording desk crammed in a corner by the bar with the sound engineer and assistant and a three man film crew. In the middle of the organised chaos The Dave Thomas Band were in full swing on the stage. The album features traditional blues by such classic blues artists as Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters as well as original contemporary blues written by Dave.
In 1975 Shortstuff, aka Dave Thomas and Hugh Gregory, recorded some tracks from their live set on a quarter-inch Revox tape machine. The tape was lost, then found – miraculously – years later in a Hackney attic. Some these tracks, together with later recordings are on this CD.
Shortstuff’s long-awaited debut album was finally released in 2016.