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The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
Album: Front Porch Sessions
Label: Family Owned Records/Thirty Tigers
Tracks: 11

This is a country blues record positively reeking with atmosphere. Recorded in a studio in an old church in the shade of the oldest poplar tree in Indiana; with the main sanctuary being the tracking room, its unique reverb haunts the recording. And that ambience suits the good Reverend and his vintage guitar down to the ground (in case you're wondering, his Big Damn Band - alias Breezy Peyton and Max Senteney - don't actually get to do much on this gig, just some backing vocals on Shakey Shirley and We Deserve A Happy Ending and washboard on Cornbread And Butterbeans and a feisty stompin' suitcase-drumbeat on Let Your Light Shine.

So yeah, this is really mostly a solo venture for the grizzly ol' Reverend from Brown County, Indiana; and his raw, rough take on the blues is fiery and honest, and he has no truck with polish or sophistication - and has no need to (the whole session was recorded in audio-vérité style on vintage equipment too). His authentic bawling, hollering, shouty singing style is just perfect for the music as is his primal, thrusting, hard-hitting guitar technique - I could listen to this guy all night! He really brings something real deep-felt to covers of blues standards like Furry Lewis' When My Baby Left Me and Blind Willie Johnson's Let Your Light(house) Shine and the traditional When You Lose Your Money (a variant of Stagger Lee), while his six original compositions feel as authentic as they come - the bleak realism of the John Hurt-like One More Thing and the gritty string-bending What You Did To The Boy Ain't Right could've been culled from obscure old 78s. Either way, the Reverend really lives each song, intimate and up close - and hey, dontcha know it!

There's two super instrumentals too, on which the Reverend and his nimble fingers are clearly having a whole lotta fun, especially on the complex rockin' rhythms of Flying Squirrels (now there's an image!), tho' It's All Night Long whoops its merry way pretty hefty too. For - unusually for a blues album - it's not doom'n'gloom all the way - hell, the opener's called We Deserve A Happy Ending, after all, and we near as dammit get it on a good number of the tracks. That Blind Willie number makes me feel so big damn good I had it on repeat before I could move on…

This guy's a real showman, a larger-than-life personality; and what an inspirational evangelist for the blues - the Reverend can come preach on my front porch anytime!

David Kidman