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Mike Sanchez featuring Albert LeeMike Sanchez featuring Albert Lee
Album: So Many Routes
Label: Diavolo Design
Tracks: 14

Born in Hackney of Spanish parents, spending most of his life in Bewdley and now living near Madrid, Sanchez has been making music since the mid 80s, forming The Big Town Playboys in 1984 with Ricky Cool, eventually going solo in 1999 as well as replacing Gary Brooker in Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. As such, he's released a total of 17 albums (six under his own name, the most recent, Almost Grown, featuring Imelda May, whose double bassist Al Gare features on this latest collection that sees Sanchez teaming with UK-born country guitar legend and Grammy winner Lee who, as you would imagine, peels off some pretty nifty licks.

A mix of rockabilly, rhythm & blues and country, it opens with "Help Me Find My Way", a Buddy Hollyish tune, but also evocative of Dave Edmunds Rockpile moving on to the Presley-styled piano pumping "I Don't Stand A Chance", Lee firing away in the gaps. Featuring parping horns, "Ain't Gonna Let Nothing" is a more R&B track, while "Your Mama's Got A Crush On Me" mines Tony Joe White swampy blues and, backed by twanged guitar, "Messed With An Angel" goes for big drama desert country balladry.

All of these are self-penned, as are three of the other numbers (a highlight of which is the Presley-ish country rockabilly of "When Something's Gone Wrong"), but, a fount of rockabilly knowledge, Sanchez has a good ear for covers too. First up is the not quite two-minute "Glad All Over", a 1957 hit for Carl Perkins written by Aaron Schroeder, Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett that oozes the flavour of the original, to be followed by "Modern Don Juan", a faithful take on the 1956 song by Don Guess and Jack Neil that was Buddy Holly's second single.

Elsewhere you get "Modern Romance", a rock n roller written by Danny Wolfe and recorded by Sanford Clark, the rockabilly "Got Love If You Want It", originally recorded as a 1957 B-side by James Moore under his alias Slim Harpo, and the Hank Snow classic "I'm Moving On", though Sanchez's version is far closer to snake-hipped Elvis than Snow's country original.

The set closes on another cover, one probably only really known to rockabilly aficionados, an echoey vocal tale on "Bertha Lou", a minor 1957 American hit for Clint Miller (banned on some US stations for the line "I wanna conjugate with you") written by John Marascalco, who also penned perhaps slightly more familiar ditties like "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Rip It Up", here given an echoey reverb vocal and guitar sound a la "Shakin' All Over".

Although, in a just world he'd be as equally successful as Jools Holland (though he's hugely popular in Europe), no one's under any illusions that this is about to suddenly bring Sanchez some sort of mainstream breakout, but if this is the sort of music you're into, then these routes should be entered into your CD's SatNav forthwith.

Mike Davies