Thirteen Shades of Blue: Nine Below Zero – Album Review


Masterly tribute to Blues Classics

The master blasters of R and B have gone back into the studio, and back to school, to produce one of the outstanding records of 2016.

Dennis Greaves has led the classic line-up, who certainly have done their homework, through a step by step education of the different styles of Blues music, and what an education it is. Thirteen Shades of Blue hits you straight between the eyes with the new big-band sound complete with brass section, keyboards and backing vocals by a new artist of huge potential.

Having stumbled on the opening track “Don’t Lay Your Funky Trip On Me” by chance (he heard it in a bar and used SHAZAM to find out what it was), Dennis Greaves has led his band on a labour of love to discover obscure old Blues tracks that are suitable for this masterclass.

Nine Below Zero are renowned for a superb standard of musicianship so the chance to get to grips with the guitar work of Little Milton Campbell on That’s What Love Will Make You Do is one that Dennis Greaves was always going to relish and he certainly delivers a performance worthy of the old Blues master. Likewise, the careering, helter-skelter shapes of The Toddle, a Little Walter Harmonica gem were too much for Mark Feltham to resist and again he rises to the challenge with aplomb.

It’s hard to pick out a stand-out track such is the range of styles covered on the album, but you can’t fail to be moved by the debut of Charlie Austen who happened to breeze into Dennis Greaves’ Blues night and ended up singing on the Aretha Franklin classic Don’t Play That Song (You Lied). That track had been suggested by Glenn Tilbrook in whose studio the album was recorded and who also contributes sitar on That’s What Love Will Make You Do.

The late-night, chairs on the table, lament of You’re Still My Woman sits nicely next to the Charles Sheffield soul classic of It’s Your Voodoo working. There is a skanking version of the John Mayall track Crawling Up a Hill while the version of Hercules showcases a band at the top of their game.

Thirteen Shades of Blue features a full range of re-imagined Blues and Soul classics which can also be an eye-opener as the last track Paper In My Shoe demonstrates. A classic tune in Zydeco Cajun style which I wasn’t even familiar with until listening to this album. A whole new world awaits.

Thirteen Shades of Blue is available on September 30th but to pre-order. see tour dates and more information on Nine Below Zero please visit their website

They also Tweet as @NineBelowZero1

I interviewed Dennis for Louder Than War and you can read that here

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