Ged has been round the block a few times, since the early 60's British blues boom in fact and describes his solo acoustic, contemporary blues as "music only a fully grown man could make". The biography in the CD inlay and on his website, tells us he had something of a seminal moment in 1971 after buying a copy of Penguin Modern Poets 10, which in turn introduced him to British poet and painter Adrian Henri whose work changed his way of thinking. His musical tastes also expanded beyond the British blues boom to the sounds of Gill Scot-Heron, Miles Davis and Lighting Hopkins, so "Somewhere between the introduction of decimal currency and seeing Led Zeppelin live in concert he managed to grasp a new wave of art and culture".
Certainly some great sound bites here, but they might take some living up to!
For his latest album 'Tonight At Noon' Ged is accompanied by Oli Tabor on drums and percussion, Josef Kaspar on bass and Jack Baldus on keyboards. Ged himself takes care of the vocals, plays guitars and adds a bit of slide and rack harp across the tracks.
Of the thirteen songs here, eleven are Ged Wilson originals and two are co writes. The album was recorded at the Yellow Shark Studios in Cheltenham and produced, mixed and mastered by Diten Vadher.
Throughout, the recording is sharp and immediate. The album has a real 'band' feel with the playing of Oli Tabor on drums and Josef Kaspar on bass being particularly tight and impressive. Ged himself is a tidy, rhythmic guitarist borne out of years of gigging solo and has a solid voice.
The album sound itself moves between straight ahead electric and acoustic blues to more jazz influenced numbers that really do point to that edgy vibe characteristic of Miles Davis and Gill Scot Heron.
My personal favourites are the up-tempo, electric blues songs like the opening track 'What The Blindman Saw', 'Ain't That A Shame' and 'Northern Town'. For me, these tracks particularly showcase the aforementioned band sound with its tight drum and bass engine room.
Elsewhere, more stripped back, acoustic numbers like 'Irwell Delta Blues' will also appeal to many with their 'in the room' sound.
Nothing wrong at all with the music here which boasts a very clean recorded sound, a tight band and solid playing.
However, I cannot hear anything that is original or fresh enough to move Ged along and up a level.
The song themes are largely generic blues bemoaning hard times, cheating women, paying dues and the like while the more experimental, jazz fusion songs such as the title track' Tonight At Noon' and the album closer 'Riffs And Spliffs' sound fine musically, but lyrically seem awkward and self conscious. Gill Scot-Herons 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', which 'Tonight At Noon' heavily references, was of course a classic of its time and genre, not least because the lyrics were so genuinely brave, edgy and relevant.
Having said all this, I think these songs will work much better live where the playing and performance will engage the crowd and sweep them along. Clearly, given Ged's long career, this is where he has built up his reputation over the years and I hope he does have the opportunity to tour these songs with the studio band.
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